A collection of British charities have launched a new appeal to raise funds to fight coronavirus in refugee camps and poor communities in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries.
The UK Government has pledged to match the first £5 million in donations made by the public to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).
The DEC, which is made up of 14 of Britain’s largest aid charities, will spend donations on providing food, water and medical care to people in countries such as Syria, Yemen and South Sudan.
Other target countries are Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan and the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh.
Much of the money will go to refugee camps, where overcrowding and poor sanitation gives the virus much greater opportunity to spread.
The DEC estimates there are 24 million internally-displaced people in these countries, as well as a further 850,000 Rohingya people in Bangladesh.
Donations will also be spent on providing soap to vulnerable families and on providing information about the dangers of the spread of the disease.
DEC chief executive Saleh Saeed said: “Coronavirus has turned all of our lives upside down in ways we could never have imagined. For those fleeing violence and conflict in the world’s most fragile places, the pandemic is a new battle that they are not equipped to fight.
“These families have already lived through trauma and upheaval. Many are now living in crowded refugee and displacement camps with little access to medical care, clean water or enough food – the bare essentials they need to survive the crisis. Millions of lives are at stake. We are urging people to donate now.”
International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “We are matching generous donations from the British people to the emergency appeal pound for pound, meaning your money will go twice as far in helping to protect millions of the world’s most vulnerable people from the deadly effects of coronavirus.
“Clean water and healthcare in refugee camps are essential in containing coronavirus in the developing world – helping stop the spread of the pandemic and protecting the UK from further waves of infection.”
So far, £769 million in UK aid has been pledged globally to fight the pandemic, according to the Department for International Development.
Among the DEC’s 14 members are ActionAid UK, Age International, the British Red Cross, Christian Aid, Islamic Relief, Oxfam GB and Save the Children UK.
Those wishing to donate can do so online at Dec.org.uk, by phone on 0370 60 60 900, or text SUPPORT to 70150 to donate £10.