We report on our survey of how the Covid pandemic continues to affect prisoners of conscience disproportionately. Ordinary people in hiding in their countries or having fled to countries such as the United Kingdom, following their acts of conscience to try to uphold their, and our, human rights.
Key effects of the Covid pandemic:
· 85% in extreme need of hardship funds for food, accommodation, heating, medicines and clothing
· 15% have been able to remain in employment
· 40% report increased mental health challenges
· 1 beneficiary and his wife infected with Covid-19
· 85% report increased difficulties in accessing services and assistance through other NGOs, with requests for PoC to step in with support
Feedback which encapsulates the survey findings
An excerpt from the response of K*, a Kurdish-Iranian journalist who was imprisoned, persecuted and whose life was threatened for reporting on human rights abuses in Iran.
Thank you so much for your Following up and your kindness, And I hope you are well also. I want to inform you, Over the past few months, my wife and I had been infected with the Covid-19 virus, And we suffered a lot in very bad conditions for about two months. While no one helped us and government hospitals did not Test us, because we did not have health insurance. Despite all this, as you know, we as refugees in Turkey had no family or close relatives here to help us. And we didn’t even have the money to buy medicine. Despite complete recovery, my wife and I are still recovering from Coronavirus and our bodies have become very weak and I am still unemployed. Due to the current situation, my work and journalism activities have become much worse than before, and I have not been able to sign an employment contract with a special news center or new Association so far. During this period, no governmental or non-governmental organization, inside or outside Turkey, has provided any financial assistance to us. I and My family have not had proper nutrition during this time, and for the past few months I have not even been able to Pay for pay my My rental House. With the onset of winter, I have not yet bought warm clothes for myself and my family, and our TVs and washing machines are out of order, and I am unable to repair or replace it’s. I ask your organization to help us, if possible, to provide the minimum cost of living in the cold season and to buy our warm clothes, as well as to pay the rent for the past few months of our rented house. Thank you so much againest for your compassion and cooperation and I hope you do not disappoint me and my family and help us. With Best Regards and Respect
A quote from a current post-graduate beneficiary, I*, provides a sobering perspective:
I can say that the experience of staying home during the quarantine was not a very difficult experience for me because of my previous experience of imprisonment for years [in Evin prison in Iran]. My cell was a 2 * 3-meter room that I was held for five years there.
And a suggested approach
A medical doctor, M*, from Afghanistan persecuted by the Taliban, whose re-qualification in the UK has been held up due to the pandemic and who has been unable to secure any interim work in the meantime:
POC can help populations in many ways. They should prioritize families with children ahead of anyone. This winter the supply of heating necessities is also of utmost importance to keep the families and their children warm. A needs assessment should be undertaken…by POC.
PoC will continue to seek feedback from our beneficiaries and to respond to their needs. With the support of our donors, we can and will make a huge positive difference to help prisoners of conscience get through this pandemic and re-establish their and their families’ lives.
Prisoners of Conscience