The United States is providing more than $110 million to help countries in the Middle East and North Africa fight COVID-19, including Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Lebanon, Morocco, as well as the West Bank.
The funding will improve disease detection and prevention, bolster lab capacity, and treat patients. In addition, the United States is partnering with humanitarian groups to support water sanitation and hygiene programs.
U.S. support to Syria
The U.S. is providing more than $31 million for the COVID-19 response in Syria, where citizens continue to suffer under a brutal regime and now face a global pandemic.
“[T]he Syrian people can continue to count on the United States to stand with them by delivering humanitarian assistance to people in need and working with teams on the ground to help mitigate the impact of the virus,” U.S. Special Representative for Syria Engagement James Jeffrey said in a March 30 statement.
While the United States has imposed sanctions against Bashar Assad’s regime for its continued atrocities against the Syrian people, the sanctions do not stop food, medicine and other aid from reaching everyday Syrians, Jeffrey said.
Strengthening health preparedness
The United States is providing nearly $30 million in Iraq during the current crisis, including more than $19.1 million for health and disaster relief. The funding builds on more than $70 billion in U.S. aid to Iraq in the past 20 years, including nearly $4 billion to public health.
In addition to significant ongoing economic, security, and humanitarian assistance, the United States is providing nearly $8.3 million in specific COVID-related assistance to help Jordan address the current health crisis, as well as nearly $12 million in Libya, $13.3 million in Lebanon, and $5.7 million in Morocco. The funding seeks to strengthen countries’ health preparedness through improved disease detection and response.
“With longstanding partners like Morocco, we are working together to improve global capacity to contain outbreaks at their source and minimize their impact,” U.S. Ambassador to Morocco David Fischer said.
U.S. private organizations also helping
U.S. companies and charities are also helping. One example is Spirit of America, a nonprofit, that provided protective medical gear to Lebanese soldiers responding to COVID-19. And the Big Texas Barbeque & Waffle House restaurants have provided soup to struggling communities in Bahrain, said Radford Cox, the company’s CEO.