By Tirion Davies
Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) Cymru has today announced the ‘Coronavirus Appeal in Wales’ to help the world’s most fragile states.
Leading Welsh aid charities have announced a joint appeal to fundraise on behalf of some of the world’s most vulnerable communities, who have been among the worst affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Though lockdown measures are slowly lifting across Wales and the UK, countries with a high number of refugees and families who have fled violence and hunger, are suffering.
Countries such as Yemen, Syria, and Somalia have seen thousands of people having to resort to living in displacement camps which are crowded, and which are poorly funded. Many of these camps have little access to medical care, clean water and food, and as a result, they are incredibly vulnerable to illnesses such as Coronavirus.
First Minister for Wales Mark Drakeford spoke in a video, in support of the appeal, urging the Welsh people to help in any way they can, stating:
“In Wales, we have come together and made sacrifices to slow the spread of Coronavirus and protect our NHS”
The First Minister praised the work of NHS frontline workers in stopping the spread of the virus but urged the Welsh public to think of some of the world’s poorest nations who do not have access to basic healthcare.
Drakeford noted that many families across the world have lost everything, but with vital resources such as supplies and hand-washing facilities provided by DEC, there is a possibility of stopping the spread of the virus.
He later added,
“All over the world, communities – just like our own – are facing the onslaught of Coronavirus, but in much worse situations. Some are ravaged by war, many are in refugee camps where social distancing is not possible. None have the safety of the NHS.
“Let’s use our rich Welsh history of solidarity to support our neighbours overseas and give them the best opportunity to deal with Coronavirus”
What is The Disaster Emergency Committee?
The Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) brings together 14 different UK-based aid charities, in order to raise funds quickly and efficiently when large-scale disasters hit vulnerable countries without the capacity to respond.
Funds raised go towards protecting and rebuilding communities hit hard by global disasters, through effective humanitarian response.
In Wales, charities such as British Red Cross, Christian Aid, CAFOD, Islamic Relief, Oxfam, Save the Children and Tearfund lead the fundraising efforts.
Why are countries such as Yemen, Syria, and Somalia so vulnerable?
The DEC’s plea comes following recent appeals to aid the people of Yemen, struck by the civil war which continues to rage on around them. Labelled as ‘the world’s worst humanitarian crisis’, the UN has reported that around 24 million people (around 80% of Yemen’s population) are depending on aid to survive.
Yemen was already struggling to contain outbreaks of dengue fever, malaria, and cholera before its first cases of COVID-19 were reported.
Vital food, medical and humanitarian supplies have been restricted by a partial land, sea, and air blockade put in place by a Saudi-led coalition of countries fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen. Without a central government in charge, Coronavirus is harder to contain.
There have been fears from many that the people of war-torn countries such as Yemen and Syria will be forgotten, as world leaders across the globe focus on their own people during this time.
Within Syria, only 64% of its public hospitals are fully functioning, with a considerable shortage of trained staff, as reported by the World Health Organisation.
With over six million internally displaced people in Syria, many of whom are stuck in overcrowded conditions with insufficient water and sanitation, the virus can spread easily, and quickly. Médecins Sans Frontières warned in March that the spread could quickly become critical in Syria.
On 16 March, Somalia confirmed its first case of COVID-19. According to the Global Health Security Index, Somalia, with a population of over 15 million, has been listed as one of the least prepared countries in the world to detect and report epidemics, or to execute a rapid response that is able to mitigate further spread of disease.
With an outbreak of locusts hailed as the worst in Somalia for 25 years, and floods displacing over a half a million people, Somalia is ill-equipped to deal with the threat Coronavirus poses to them.
For countries such as Yemen, Syria, and Somalia, DEC Cymru’s Coronavirus Appeal in Wales might help to provide aid which is vital and necessary, during a time of great suffering.