As the impact of the global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic grows, International Alert remains committed to its mission of helping people and communities break through cycles of violent conflict and build sustainable peace.
At this time of global challenge, our focus is first and foremost on the impacts of COVID-19 to our peacebuilding work on the ground in countries hit by violent conflict, and to our staff and partner organisations. Across many of our programmes, and in our headquarters offices, we are already seeing capacity limited by both the pandemic itself and the efforts of governments to counter it.
We are making every effort to ensure that as much peacebuilding work as possible goes on, evaluating the challenges on a daily basis. Our teams remain dedicated: continuing to work for peace from home in the face of lockdowns, closures of public space and limitations on movement.
We understand how quickly the situation may escalate and are working flat-out to anticipate and mitigate risks as far as possible. We are also mindful of the disproportionate impact the virus could have on people living in fragile settings, where healthcare systems are often inadequate and trust in government may be low.
As an organisation committed to building peace, mindful of our duty of care to our staff, local partners and the people we serve, we have put in place a number of measures to keep people safe while maintaining activities as much as possible.
These measures already include:
- Postponing all international work-related travel;
- Restricting domestic travel to mission-essential only, in those countries where more extensive controls are not already in place;
- Suspending most in-person meetings, workshops and events;
- Stressing the importance of heightened hygiene measures and observation of social distancing;
- Making arrangements for staff at headquarters and globally to work from home;
- Measures to provide psychological support to staff as well as supporting staff with carer responsibilities; and
- Working closely with donors and partners to ensure the safety of personnel and continue, where the environment permits, to deliver on programming commitments.
Finally, we recognise the potential for crises such as this to exacerbate local conflicts and are carefully monitoring contexts in all the countries where we work in order to anticipate and best respond.
International Alert would like to express solidarity with all people affected by COVID-19. We are inspired by those working under immense pressure to deal with the outbreak and the resilience of those who strive to maintain optimism and deal with all the additional strain that the pandemic brings with it.
This statement was updated on 24 March 2020, 14:00 GMT to reflect the evolving situation in the UK and abroad as well as additional measures that have now been put in place by Alert.