Christian Aid has launched an emergency appeal to help people in some of the world’s poorest countries deal with the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Outbreaks have occurred in most of the countries that Christian Aid operates in, including India, Bangladesh, Kenya and Iraq. It is expected that all the charity’s partner organisations will be affected as the disease continues to spread.
While all countries need to respond to COVID-19, those with existing humanitarian crises are particularly vulnerable, and less equipped to do so. Poor health systems, ongoing conflict and densely populated areas such as refugee communities, all exacerbate the seriousness of this pandemic.
Christian Aid will prioritise the poorest and most marginalised groups, who will be worst affected not only by the actual virus, but also by the secondary social, health and economic impacts of the outbreak. It will adapt existing projects to put interventions in place – such as handwashing stations and temporary health clinics – and will work closely with community and faith-based leaders to engage as many people as possible to help prevent it spreading.
Nick Guttmann, Christian Aid’s head of humanitarian, said:
“Many health facilities, at the local and national levels, have sub-optimal infection prevention and control measures, due in part to lack of water and sanitation facilities. Further humanitarian needs may also occur because of excessive pressure on these stretched health-care systems, putting strain on other essential services such as education, and many other aspects that add to the difficulties that existed prior to the pandemic.
“Many governments have restricted the movement of individuals with varying degrees of lockdown which has meant many individuals are unable to leave their homes in order to make a living. Unfortunately, many of these countries don’t have safety nets to support these people. It is at times like these – testing times – that we need to recognise we are all in this together.”
Christian Aid will use lessons learned during its response to the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone and more recently in the Democratic Republic of Congo.