Covid-19 has not yet reached Kakuma camp, but misinformation is spreading rapidly.
Given the lack of medical infrastructure in Kakuma, it is important that the community does its best to follow public health recommendations that can prevent the spread of the virus. However, misinformation leads people to undertake ineffective strategies, which can be a major waste of energy and resources. Moreover, misinformation may discourage them from following the official guidance of qualified health experts. Worse yet, rumors about how the disease is spread can cause stigmatization and even violence against certain groups.
Much misinformation is spread through the WhatsApp platform. Someone receives a message about Covid-19, and they immediately forward it to all of their groups. They often do this with good intentions, as they believe that they are helping their friends to prepare. But in actuality they are misinforming them.
To draw attention to the spread of misinformation, KANERE reached out to different part of the camp, as well as the Kalobeyei Settlement to find out what misinformation is spreading about COVID -19. Some common misconceptions are listed below:
MYTH #1: Tea Leaf without Sugar Can Prevent the Virus
“A child was allegedly born in Sudan. He told people to drink tea leaf, and that the virus will not attack whoever does so. The child died immediately after speaking this message.” – Group 13 resident
MYTH #2: Covid-19 is God’s Punishment of Rich White People
“This thing is only for rich people and white people. It will not affect black people like me and you. The reports you are hearing now from African governments are fake. They are just trying to get funds. The virus is a punishment from God for those who commit bad things like being gay and stuff.” – Kakuma One
MYTH #3: Hair Inside the Bible
“If you go inside the bible and look, you will find a strand of hair. You are supposed to boil it and drink it, as it is a cure from God. And then tosha! No virus, no bacteria.” New Canada Resident.
MYTH #4: Only Christians are Infected
“Muslims shouldn’t worry about this virus, because it is only affecting Christians. I heard this from a regional MP in my home country. He advised us to read one of the chapters if the Qur’an, seventeen times, early in the morning.” Kakuma Three Resident
KANERE calls for all refugees to read social media messages carefully, avoid spreading misinformation and to follow the instructions from UNHCR and IRC.
Here is UNHCR link to get updates regarding COVID-19.