While social distancing is the word since last March, putting it in practice isn’t always possible. This is particularly the case in refugee camps, where spaces are often cramped and overcrowded.
Since December 2019, CECI and the Fondation Paul Gérin-Lajoie have been present across three regions of Africa for the refugee camps’ most vulnerable
populations as part of the project Girls’ Education for a Better Future in the Great Lakes Region (ÉDUFAM). The ultimate goal of the project is the increased
empowerment of girls and women through education, especially for refugees, displaced people, those who return, and the disabled. Although different for Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda, the situation in the refugee camps of the three countries is taken very seriously, among other things because of the high risk of propagation of the virus.The responsible authorities are saying the necessary measures are put into place to deal with the situation. To date, the camps targeted by ÉDUFAM have not recorded any cases of transmission of COVID-19.
Even though there are no carriers of the virus in these camps, we must acknowledge that the preventive closure of schools in the DRC and Rwanda considerably
increases the vulnerability of girls to the risks of gender-based violences, especially pregnancies and early marriages, that will hinder the continuation of their educational
In response to this, as a first step, the Fondation Paul Gérin-Lajoie, CECI and their local partners are working to develop a short-term crisis response plan to sensitize
communities on the increased risks of gender-based violence. Additionally, they are working in the medium term to prepare for and support the reopening of schools and,
finally, in the long term, to strengthen the resilience of education systems in the event of future crises of this magnitude.
Make a donation today to our COVID-19 Emergency Fund to support our efforts with our partners around the world.
The original version of this article was published in French on the website of the Fondation Paul Gérin Lajoie.
The ÉDUFAM project aims to present a regional response to the pressing educational needs of girls, adolescent girls and women in the African Great Lakes region. It is implemented in a consortium made up of the Fondation Paul Gérin-Lajoie (FPGL) and CECI. It brings together the FPGL’s proven expertise in basic education and vocational training and CECI’s established experience in the fight against gender-based violences, one of the main obstacles to the education of girls in situations of conflict. The project receives financial support from the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada.