At a time when the coronavirus pandemic continues, royal travel to other nations is rare. So this week, the Crown Prince of Norway has traveled digitally to several nations in the Middle East to learn more about the Norwegian relief work given to disadvantaged countries. Crown Prince Haakon joined a virtual field trip to Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
His Royal Highness said: “It makes an impression, even though we are far away. It is very important work they do and impressive to see how it works in some of the places in the world that are most difficult to work in. They are so determined that they will travel where they are needed most. It is really impressive and nice to see.”
Crown Prince Haakon learned more about how the measures in place to stop the spread of Covid-19 have major consequences for the economy, work and mobility. For refugees and communities in conflict, the result is dramatic: It becomes even more difficult to provide food and housing, find work and secure children’s education.
In Afghanistan, the Crown Prince talked to Farkhunda and her family who returned to Afghanistan in 2008 after living as refugees in Pakistan since 1992. Today she works for the Norwegian Refugee Council in a camp for internally displaced people. The Crown Prince also met 18-year-old Jahanzeb, who feeds himself and his family of eleven by selling fruit and vegetables on the streets of Kabul.
From Iraq, the Crown Prince heard about the situation in northern Iraq from aid workers on the spot. Among other things, Crown Prince Haakon spoke with Shadan, who works with gender-based violence on behalf of the Norwegian Refugee Council in northern Iraq. Shadan took the Crown Prince with him to see both education projects and work training projects and meet young people on the run who receive assistance from the Norwegian Refugee Council to build a future. From the streets of Lebanon, Raed, originally from Jordan, spoke with the Crown Prince where he is assisting in the continuing rebuilding work following the huge explosion in Beirut earlier this year. Crown Prince Haakon also had the opportunity to speak to aid workers in Yemen.
The Norwegian Refugee Council, the NRC, is a Norwegian organization that helps people who have been forced to flee. They assist refugees in more than 30 countries with food and clean water, shelter, legal aid and education. Not since World War II has there been a greater need for NRC assistance than today. Covid-19 has made a difficult situation even worse.