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Protection of Syrian civil society staff during COVID-19 epidemic

The world passes exceptional circumstances due to the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic, known scientifically as COVID-19, and the request of the Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights to take action per its responsibility towards colleagues working in civil society and to act effectively to ensure their protection from negative health, social and economic impacts resulting from The spread of this epidemic.

FFHR adopts and expects Social Security Protocol to protect Civil Society from the consequences of coronavirus which have been issued by the CIVICUS .

The protocol summarizing the proposed measures in six points:

1- Systems to ensure physical distancing and other precautions

2- Support for COVID-19 testing and related treatment

3- Protection of jobs and pay across the COVID-19 lockdown and escalation period

4- Flexibility and support for home and care-related responsibilities

5- Extending our community of care to our collaborators and constituencies

6- Acting in solidarity with workers and other vulnerable communities

The Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights based in this statement depending on the protocol referred to, calls to:

First: Syrian civil society organizations:

1.      Adoption of a series of preventative measures and mainly physical distancing and move to work remotely based on the guidelines of the World Health Organization and local laws and relevant regulations and the need to provide protective equipment for workers in the relief field and providers for basic services in the camps for displaced persons and Syrian refugees inside and outside Syria.

2. Support for COVID-19 testing and related treatment by:

●        useful information about virus detection procedures and test costs.

●        of paid sick leave for workers who need to rest and recover and provide health grants for urgent patients and their families.

●        psychological and social support to deal with the negative effects on workers in civil society organizations and their families.

3. Protection of jobs and pay across the COVID-19 lock down and escalation period because of the virus outbreak.

·Fraternity Human Rights Foundation recommends that, based on the aforementioned protocol, working contracts be extended until December 2020 including part-time and temporary workers.

4. Be flexible to support household and family responsibilities related to care and to change and reduce working hours without affecting wages, especially staff responsible for childcare, vulnerable groups and people with disabilities.

Providing economic, psychological and social support for workers exposed to violence and abuse, especially women, as a result of domestic quarantine and the high level of home psychological pressures.

5. Extending our community of care to our collaborators and constituencies.

By disseminating information about the necessary protection protocols recommended by the World Health Organization, providing the services provided by the organization as a result of these circumstances, relying on contingency plans, and exposing measures, whether governmental or organizations aimed at restricting and intimidating.

Acting in solidarity with workers and other vulnerable communities

By calling for solidarity campaigns to promote the protection of employment and workers and their wages and provide health and social support for children with special needs and the elderly.

Second: International donors to Syria:

The Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights calls on international donors and mediators who provide basic support to civil society to:

·Provide the most flexibility, confidence, and continuity towards beneficiaries and partners.

·Communicating with the beneficiary partners to find the best ways to address the current crisis in the absence of international strategies towards large areas in Syria that lack humanitarian supplies and assistance.

·Raise the level of flexibility in dealing with grants due for payment to partners and to increase its size outside the framework of contracts to support the Syrian partners in providing recommendations for the first item of this statement.

·Simplification of procedures and reports established to give local partners the ability to focus and the provision of energy and resources to cope with the difficult crisis.

Third: The Syrian Local Authorities (the Syrian government, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, the Syrian opposition).

·Providing local organizations’ requirements for care and prevention systems and ensuring protection for the work of local organizations that seek to provide basic services to vulnerable groups, refugees and internally displaced people.

·Provide accurate and correct information of public opinion and not to cover up on injuries to help workers in the civil society to complete their work and provide their services properly and safely.

·Lift all unnecessary restrictions on civil society organizations and their employees to help them complete their work and provide their services correctly and safely.

Syria – 10 April 2020