Middle East (MNN) — Today marks seven weeks since the World Health Organization began describing COVID-19 as a “global pandemic.” See our full coverage here. Since March 11th, the number of infections worldwide has climbed from 131,135 to 3,006,833. These rates will likely skyrocket as the virus reaches refugee camps.
“They are living in close proximity to each other; they can’t self-isolate as we can in Western nations. So, when it (COVID-19) arrives, then it can actually just go through the camps very, very quickly,” Peter* from Cry Out Now says.
Furthermore, experts say the global economy faces its worst fallout since the Great Depression. These factors hit Middle East refugees especially hard. Refugees already suffered from poverty and poor health before the pandemic hit, Peter explains.
“It’s trauma upon trauma.”
Refugees struggle under lockdown
Most Middle East governments won’t extend help to refugee populations. In Turkey, Syrian refugees cannot receive financial or food assistance, or the facemasks that are given freely to Turkish citizens. Lockdown measures in Lebanon brought business to a standstill, so most refugees lost their jobs and only source of income. Jordan stands out as an exception to the norm, but its resources and capacity are stretched extremely thin.
Typically, local churches help refugees in crisis by providing food and medicines in Jesus’ name. Now, forced inside by lockdown orders, believers are frustrated. “We feel helpless,” they tell Peter.
However, the Gospel workers found a different way to support vulnerable refugees.
“During this lockdown, we’re taking five hours a day, every day, six days a week to pray for Syria and pray for refugees.”
Believers use Zoom to organize their prayer efforts, Peter adds.
How to help
“Pray that there would be just an increase among the refugee populations of dreams and visions and that God would, in supernatural ways, just provide for these people. Ask God to intervene [and] bless these refugees, but also prepare the way for what [He] will do in the coming days, especially in a place like Syria,” Peter requests.
“Jesus is revealing himself more and more to refugees who have nowhere else to turn.”
*— Name changed for security purposes.
Header image depicts COVID-19 infected countries and territories as of April 28, 2020. (Graphic, caption courtesy Wikimedia Commons)