Helping those who need it the most

In the spring of 2020, the world shut down. Suddenly, we were facing a crisis of unknown dimensions. No-one knew what would happen next. The only thing we could guess was that those who were already having a hard time would be worse off than ever. Equinor was among several of our partners who were quick to help out.

Equinor and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) have a long-standing partnership. Over the years, the energy company has made multiple contributions to support our work for the world’s displaced people. When the pandemic hit, it was important to mobilise assistance as soon as possible.  
As early as March 2020, NRC therefore launched the fundraising campaign "Solidarity does not stop at our borders". Equinor mobilised quickly and donated over NOK 5 million (approximately 500,000 USD) to our Covid-19 emergency response work.

Great significance 

“When times are challenging, it's always the people who have little that struggle the most. In times of crisis, it's vital to respond quickly, which is why we are so appreciative of Equinor's prompt donation,” says NRC's Head of External Relations, Sean Nicholson. 

Such rapid mobilisation is of great significance and allows us to get help out quickly to those who need it the most.
Sean Nicholson

The pandemic has had enormous consequences worldwide, especially for people who are already living on the lowest rungs of society. According to a report published by NRC in September 2020, more than three in four displaced people lost income in the first few months of the pandemic. 

The impact has been catastrophic: more people are starving, people are losing their homes, and a large number of children and young people are missing out on valuable education. 


Clean water and healthcare   

Equinor’s donation to NRC’s Covid-19 emergency response fund has gone to help thousands of people in Iraq, Cameroon and Djibouti gain access to clean water and healthcare, among other things. This aid helped prevent the spread of infection, enabling people to protect themselves from an invisible and unpredictable enemy. 

Refugees in Makary, in northern Cameroon, queuing up to wash their hands before receiving hygiene kits. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the distribution took place in small groups. Photo: Patrice Dongmo/NRC

Cameroon has been plagued by violence and conflict for over ten years, and thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes. It is difficult to protect yourself from an invisible virus when you live in a tent and lack even the essentials. 
With support from Equinor, we distributed hygiene kits to around 2,400 people in Cameroon. At the same time, our employees went door to door, providing information and teaching people what to do to protect themselves from the virus. 
Meanwhile in Iraq, millions of people have fled their homes since 2014. Many eventually return, but they return to areas that lack proper infrastructure. 
Among other things, NRC managed to renovate three hospitals – enabling around 50,000 women, men and children to gain access to healthcare. This allowed the hospitals to handle the new and substantial influx of Covid-19 patients, while still being able to help the population with other health services. 

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A boy stands outside his family home in Iraq. They have just received a hygiene kit and information on how to stay safe from the virus. Photo: Sunbul Tariq/NRC 
There’s always a need for help, but things got much worse with the pandemic. Many needed assistance so that they could better protect themselves from the virus. We are incredibly happy that we were able to rehabilitate hospitals and secure healthcare for so many people.
Maithree Abeyrathna, Head of Programme NRC Iraq

Djibouti has had to deal with multiple crises: not only droughts and floods, but also swarms of locusts and outbreaks of various diseases. The Covid-19 pandemic has further strained the country’s health system, making everyday life even more difficult for poor families. 
As part of our emergency response work during the pandemic, we ensured that approximately 4,000 households had access to clean water. In addition, we installed wash stations at eight schools and two hospitals. We also distributed hygiene kits and provided extensive training in their use – and how to stay safe. 

Despite massive efforts worldwide, the pandemic is far from over. A number of countries are experiencing a fourth wave of infection, and many people are still not vaccinated. The need for help is enormous, and increasing 
Nobody knows what long-term effects Covid-19 will have on people, society and the economy. The only thing for certain is that many of those who were already struggling now have it even worse. 


Support our work for people forced to flee.