During this time of uncertainty, IJM is continuing its operations around the globe and will continue to do everything possible to bring light into the darkest places - to prove that justice is unstoppable.
This page will be updated with updates and information regarding IJM’s response to the pandemic. Subscribe to our social channels to be alerted about breaking news.
WEEK OF 3/30
- IJM Uganda - Preparing the teams to work fully remotely has had some logistical challenges, but as of last week, our team has helped solve connectivity issues to ensure that staff can work from home. Some of our team in northern Uganda were without power to charge phones and laptops for most of the week, so a safe and spaced out schedule has been created for staff to come to the office and use the generator to charge devices. Salary advances were also given so that staff could purchase needed supplies to remain at home during this time.
The Uganda casework team has been hard at work coordinating a response to a new sexual violence against children case brought to us last week in which a father is suspected of abusing his daughter. Through phone calls and emails, the team worked closely with the Criminal Investigations Department of the police, local leaders, social workers, and counsellors to create a plan of action to get the young girl to safety and help her to receive immediate counselling. The father had worked with police to have the girl’s mother illegally detained so he could take the girl away, but IJM worked quickly to secure her release from police custody on Friday. IJM is working with the sexual and gender-based violence unit of police and counsellors over the phone to handle the case.
- IJM Delhi - The country-wide lockdown that was announced with four hours notice on March 24th has led to a mass exodus. Thousands of migrant labourers who work in facilities and factories in the cities are walking to homes in neighbouring villages all across the country. Without work, they have lost their daily wages and have run out of food, water, and medicine. IJM is working with iProbono lawyers to connect with corporations who are interested in funding relief materials to bonded labour survivors and other communities who are vulnerable to both COVID-19 and starvation.
- IJM Bangalore - The aftercare team has worked hard with a leading crowdfunding site and the local government to launch a funding and distribution campaign aimed at reaching 250 vulnerable families in Ramnagara District.
- IJM Chennai - After several families called us for help on Saturday, IJM and RBLA leaders have rallied the government to provide food support to survivors of bonded labour struggling during India's COVID-19 lockdown. They reached 87 families in 3 days and are hoping to reach 236 families by the end of this week.
- IJM Kolkata and Mumbai - Our teams combating sex trafficking in India have been in close contact with the government and our aftercare partners on how to keep survivors safe during the pandemic. This has included food and hygiene support for aftercare homes, and even support for adult sex workers living in red-light districts who are adversely affected by the travel freezes. The Mumbai team has already worked with our partners to support 100 families living in the Turbhe red-light district and 100 sex workers in the Kamathipura red-light district. We have also set up WhatsApp groups with all of our survivors to keep them updated and share encouragement in this difficult time—but the team said they get just as many texts from survivors checking in on them!
WEEK OF 3/22
- IJM Chennai - As all field teams start mobilizing to protect the poor, the team is supporting the Released Bonded Laborers’ Association (RBLA) as they raise awareness about the coronavirus among survivors and the broader vulnerable community. One IJM staff member shared: "The way the leaders have responded to this crisis and the steps they have taken to make sure that their community is going to get through safely is remarkable." Read more about the work of the RBLA.
On March 24 - thanks to donations from several local partners - IJM staff and RBLA members distributed hygiene kits to 670 survivor families in Tamil Nadu, just before the state-imposed a strict travel ban through the end of the month.
- IJM Odisha - To help educate many of the survivors who are illiterate and live far from cities, the Odisha team wrote and recorded a song about coronavirus. They also worked with a local comedian who dubs cartoons to share a funny video in the local dialect about coronavirus, which already has over 100,000 views this week.
- IJM Philippines - Sam Inocencio, IJM National Director for the Philippines, raised awareness that traffickers may see COVID-19 as an opportunity to profit off of the abuse of children who are practicing social distancing and staying inside. He encouraged partners to stay vigilant against the online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) in their communities. IJM staff distributed flyers with OSEC hotline numbers to encourage reporting.
- IJM Kenya - The aftercare team has identified survivors who have been hard hit by the slowing economic activity and have provided them with financial support to help them buy groceries while in lockdown.
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