COVID-19: Issue Spotlight
The spread of COVID-19 brings to light a number of global, regional, and country-specific challenges affecting the Middle East and North Africa, not only in the health space, but on issues involving the economy, rule of law, security, access to information, and beyond. Central to TIMEP’s mission has been its commitment to fostering transparent, accountable, and just societies; these qualities make societies best-positioned to address the most difficult of challenges—and a global pandemic is no exception.
In centering localized perspectives, expertise, and voices, TIMEP’s comprehensive response includes (1) producing nuanced and solutions-oriented analysis that unpacks the context in which COVID-19 spreads, assesses the response of governments and other actors, and looks to expected impact; (2) virtually convening like-minded organizations and partners through meetings and initiatives intended to influence policy at the country, regional, and global levels; and (3) engaging with the legal, rights, and expert communities to establish norms that uphold the ability of states to effectively respond to pandemics, while respecting the fundamental rights of their citizens.
One week before the Egyptian government eased restrictions that had been put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly blamed the absence of “a number of doctors” from their posts at hospitals as the reason for the recent surge in the number of coronavirus fatalities.
A comprehensive multisectoral strategy is required as the spread of COVID-19 seriously threatens populations across the country.
Relative to other countries in the region, Syria is exceptionally unprepared to manage the potential of a COVID-19 outbreak. Even before the beginning of the conflict in 2011, Syria’s healthcare infrastructure, including the national health system’s capacity to prepare and respond to outbreaks, was considered below average in comparison to other MENA countries.
No country in the world will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic unscathed. As states and societies learn how to manage the virus and implement regulations to slow its spread, they must also devise policies to mitigate the economic impact of the crisis–an impact that has yet to be fully estimated.
As early as February, the World Health Organization warned of a “massive infodemic” that was accompanying the COVID-19 outbreak. Social media and traditional media alike have been inundated with misleading and false information about the virus, while there is also a host of misinformation about the misinformation itself.
TIMEP joins 109 organizations to call upon governments to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic not be used as pretext to usher in invasive digital surveillance measures.
The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) and MENA Rights Group, joined by 38 organizations from around the world, have issued a statement calling on governments in the Middle