Updates from the field #15: The fight against COVID-19 continues

Community volunteers in Lusaka speaks to community members about COVID-19 as part of community sensitization on the virus.
Caption: Community volunteers in Lusaka speaks to locals about COVID-19 as part of sensitization of the virus.
Photo: UNDP Zambia/2020

Together with national authorities, the private sector and other partners, the UN teams serving 162 countries and territories continue to prioritize the fight against COVID-19. Today, we highlight some of their work as of 19 June 2020. 


In Brazil, the UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Niky Fabiancic, is working with authorities to save lives and livelihoods in the midst of the pandemic, focusing on the most vulnerable groups, particularly indigenous peoples, migrants, people in prisons, and youth. 

There have been nearly 900,000 confirmed cases and more than 43,000 deaths due to COVID-19 in the country. 

In the Amazon region, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has donated hundreds of hygiene kits to state authorities for distribution in eight shelters supporting Venezuelans and Brazilians affected by the pandemic. 

At the border with Venezuela, the UN has distributed over 159 hygiene kits, 90 bottles of hand sanitizer and mosquito nets to informal settlements, with hundreds of people receiving medical attention through mobile health units.

IOM distributed essentials to the shelters in Brazil housing refugees from Venezuela. A family staying at the shelter eat together.

Photo: IOM

Also, 15,000 meals were offered to indigenous people coming from Venezuela and sheltered since April. 

The UN children’s fund (UNICEF) has delivered over 200 masks and health and water and sanitation services for indigenous peoples in shelters, with vaccines administered to 100 residents, including children, pregnant women and the elderly. 

And UN-backed health workers monitored 2,000 people at high risk of infection, leading to over 300 migrants and refugees identified with COVID-19 symptoms, who are now receiving treatment. 

And the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is investing more than US$43 million to mitigate the effects of the pandemic in the northeastern region, boosting skills and income for rural families. 

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) received over 2,000 kilos of food items to be donated in partnership with NGOs, in addition to face masks and hand sanitizers. 

For its part, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) organized an online session on judicial integrity during the crisis, bringing together lawyers and judges to share lessons following the rapid digitization of judicial services during the lockdown period. UNICEF is working with authorities to prevent the spread of the virus in detention facilities with adolescents.

And finally, we are also working with authorities to safeguard the rights of vulnerable women, including domestic workers, in a partnership with the government. The recommendations to national authorities are aligned to a regional policy brief by UN Women, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). 


In Colombia, the World Health Organization (WHO) said there are currently nearly 49,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with nearly 1,600 deaths.

The UN team, in coordination with the UN Verification Mission in the country, and under the leadership of acting Resident Coordinator Jessica Faieta, prepared a $303 million strategy focusing on health, improving livelihoods and protecting vulnerable communities.

The team has repurposed existing funding to support the Government at the national and local levels, with new financial support. In all the 170 locations identified as the most vulnerable due to the armed conflict. The UN is working with local authorities to strengthen the health system’s capacity to mitigate and respond to the pandemic, with a US$4.6 million boost from the Multi-Partner Trust Fund for Sustaining Peace in Colombia.

IOM, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and WHO are working with authorities to deliver protective equipment to health centres, hiring epidemiological surveillance staff and other health personnel, and support to maintain sexual and reproductive healthcare services. 

For its part, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) is supporting small and medium-sized businesses to continue providing jobs and keep up the food production. 

UN staffers at a warehouse stocked full of life-saving supplies.

Photo: OPS

The team, along with the UN Misson, are also supporting former combatants. WFP is backing an initiative to boost former combatants’ food production in reintegration centres for their own consumption as well as nearby communities. Also, former combatants with medical experience are being hired to support the health system in their communities or those nearby. Textile and clothing projects for the reintegration of ex combatants are producing masks for communities. These and other similar initiatives are helping build trust between former combatants and civilian population.

The UN team has also focused on consulting and supporting indigenous organizations to prevent the spread of the virus, with an assessment mission in the Amazon.

And UN Women is also currently implementing an initiative to tackle domestic violence and gender-based violence with local authorities.

The UN team is also providing cash-transfer for rent payments and basic food security to Venezuelans in Colombia in a joint effort by IOM, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), UNICEF, WFP and WHO. The team is also providing assistance to migrants and refugees in the borders between Colombia and Ecuador and Venezuela, with UNICEF providing hand washing stations in the border with Venezuela, while WFP distributed food to migrants across the country.


The UN team, led by Resident Coordinator, Valerie Julliand, is supporting Government efforts to cope with the pandemic, with a special focus on the most vulnerable. Authorities are facilitating the repatriation of Nepali migrants from the Gulf and South East Asia, with the number of returnees from India increasing in the past weeks. The UN has been supporting efforts at points of entry and transit, with quarantine sites and isolation centres. 25,000 returnees are expected in this first phase.

Nepal currently has over 7,800 confirmed cases and 22 reported deaths due to the pandemic.

According to a UN assessment, the pandemic has disrupted supply chains, threatening small and informal businesses. Three in five employees have lost their jobs and tourism receipts are projected to fall by 60 per cent this year resulting in a US$400 million loss.

In addition, the fall in remittances is likely to range between 15 and 20 per cent this year, with Nepal’s projected GDP growth rate of 8.5 per cent declining to well below 2.5 per cent, according to a UNDP-led assessment.

The crisis has especially affected women. More than 40 per cent of women lost their jobs, compared to less than 30 per cent of men. UN Women is leading the needs assessment of women and persons who do not appear on government lists, such as sex workers, trafficked women, LGBTQI persons, also enabling women-led community kitchens in vulnerable provinces.

Two hosts of a radio program provide messages on COVID-19 symptoms and preventive measures, positive stories, mental wellbeing respect and care for returnees/migrants.

Photo: UNDP Nepal

The UN team is also engaging over 100 young volunteers, including LGBTQI, in an online campaign for mental health, with prevention campaigns that reached more than 12 million people via TV and radio broadcast in multiple languages and community outreach. Another 13 million people were reached through social media, while 1.5 million received prevention messages via mobile phone.


In Serbia, there are now more than 12,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 250 deaths.

Nine UN agencies, led by the Resident Coordinator, Françoise Jacob, and guided by WHO, are supporting the country’s health response, with special focus on the most vulnerable groups.

The UN team has mobilized US$26 million, which has been used to purchase medical supplies and is also being used for logistics, including flights to deliver life-saving items.

The UN team is also supporting Serbia’s efforts to communicate on COVID-19, reaching some six million people. Messages have been tailored for different groups, such as refugees, asylum seekers and people at risk of statelessness. Safe community outreach also reached 180,000 people including women, youth, Roma people, persons with disabilities, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants and the elderly. 

Some 45,000 people – including women, youth, the Romani people, persons with disabilities, and the elderly – have received hygiene kits and humanitarian aid from the UN, with the Red Cross and NGOs.

The UN and implementing partners provide women and girls essential supplies.

Photo: UN Serbia

The UN has also gathered 7,000 volunteers to support local governments’ efforts to prevent the spread of the virus. Through a UNICEF-backed online platform, 500 adolescents are offering peer support to cope with the pandemic.

The UN, together with the World Bank and the European Union, is supporting the Government to assess the social and economic impacts of the pandemic.


There are more than 1,400 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 11 deaths recorded, with the pandemic taking a toll on livelihoods and the economy. 

Led by the Resident Coordinator, Dr. Coumba Mar Gadio, and with guidance from WHO, the UN team is supporting the Government and is working to mobilize more than US$130 million for the  UN COVID-19 Emergency Appeal, which aims to reach 6.2 million vulnerable people. The UN team and our partners are working to bolster food security, social protection, public health, education, health and water and sanitation. 

UN provided the community a truck-filled with essential supplies.

Photo: UN Zambia/2020

The UN has provided laboratory supplies and personal protection equipment and has also trained technical staff and improved COVID-19 surveillance and detection. The UN team has also established two national call centres. Some 200,000 water, sanitation and hygiene supplies have been distributed to health facilities and refugee settlements. Nearly 15,000 refugees have received soap and other supplies, including menstrual hygiene kits. 

Also, the UN is providing food assistance to 622,000 people in drought-affected areas, supporting small farmers and boosting the supply chain for the Government’s food assistance programme. The UN also transported personal protection equipment and testing kits donated by the Jack Ma Foundation. 
The UN also partnered with the Zambia Police to ensure that law enforcement officers carry out their duties with respect for human rights.

To take care of survivors of gender-based violence and human trafficking, the UN built a shelter and is enabling access to health services, especially for pregnant women.
Prison settings are another area of concern in Zambia and other countries around the world. The UN is backing the national contingency plan for prisons, with strategies to decongest facilities and share personal protective equipment, including for inmates living with HIV in prison settings. The UN also spent US$37,000 to help pregnant women in prisons have access to healthcare, also distributing 5,000 hygiene packs for people living with HIV.

UN entities involved in this initiative
International Fund for Agricultural Development
International Labor Organization
International Organization for Migration
United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Population Fund
United Nations Children’s Fund
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
World Food Programme
World Health Organization
Other entities involved in this initiative
World Bank
World Bank

Goals we are supporting through this initiative