Two different kinds of contamination

by MainGate Staff
Spring/Summer 2020

Noor Jaber Chehayeb (MPH ’17) was at her apartment in Rabat, Morocco, when the COVID-19 lockdown went into effect. She’d arrived in the country five days earlier as a newly appointed weapons contamination delegate for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), after having spent two years with the Lebanese Red Cross. “It’s been a bit tough. I arrived and didn’t have time to get to know Rabat.”

Nonetheless, she’s managed to get up and running in her new role, meeting virtually with colleagues from the ICRC and the Moroccan Red Cross to plan awareness campaigns around population exposure to the remnants of war: minefields and other hazardous post-war sites. “I focus on risk awareness and safe behaviors, on raising awareness in certain communities.” She’s also expanded her portfolio to include raising awareness of COVID-19.


Noor Jaber Chehayeb (MPH ’17), Weapon Contamination Delegate
at the International Committee of the Red Cross


No longer able to organize meetings and hand out flyers, Chehayeb and her colleagues are helping the Moroccan Red Cross formulate effective public information campaigns around both COVID-19 and weapons contamination. Fortunately, “there’s a huge similarity between the awareness work I do around weapons and the work that needs to be done around COVID-19.”

In some cases, she says, fears around COVID-19 have pushed Moroccans into areas deemed unsafe due to weapons contamination. “People have been fleeing urban areas for deserts that may still be full of landmines.” She also points to the rise COVID-19 cases in Moroccan prisons.

“We have to reprioritize, to shift resources. I’m still a weapons contamination delegate, I’m just working on COVID-19 now too.”