Refugee camps usually have a very high population density which makes them vulnerable to the spread of the pandemic. Within these camps, vulnerable groups extend beyond the old population and there are people with conditions like TB, HIV, malnutrition which expose them at a higher risk to the virus. Due to the lack of quarantine facilities in these camps, the virus left uncurbed will spread very quickly since young people and old people have regular interactions. There are already a relatively small number of medical staff working in the camps, lack of medical supply due to less attention paid to the refugee camps can mean that the medical staff are at a greater risk of getting infected.
We believe that an agent-based simulation approach can help for the reasons outlined below. The refugee camps are currently in shutdown so there is no influx or outflow of people so the geographical boundaries are contained. People in the camp follow a certain routine that can be predicted [assumption!] for example the family visiting the market for food supplies. Each household’s habitats can be estimated via satellite imagery and we know that each section of the camp has a community organisation where people constantly mingle [assumption!]. These mean that an agent-based simulation in such an environment is going to be representative of the real situation and modelling can inform the effectiveness of the different actions the camp authorities can take, for example, swap houses to gather the vulnerable people together in one quarter and set up a single entrance to that quarter where a hand-washing facility is taken. We aim to inform the camp authority the effective measures based on what we know and what our partner organisation on the ground know.