The Disasters Emergency Committee’s coronavirus appeal raised more than £5m during its first day, organisers have announced.
The DEC, which is a collaboration of 14 major aid charities that coordinates appeals for humanitarian crises, opened the appeal on Tuesday with a focus on people living in refugee camps.
The DEC warned that 24 million internally displaced people in Yemen, Syria, Somalia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Afghanistan and 850,000 Rohingya people living in Bangladeshi refugee camps were facing a deadly threat from Covid-19.
It said communities living in camps were particularly vulnerable to the virus because the crowded temporary settlements lacked clean running water and soap for people to protect themselves, basic medical supplies to treat those who fall ill and enough ventilators and specialist equipment.
The UK government is matching the first £5m of donations to the appeal.
Saleh Saeed, chief executive of the DEC, said: “Here in the UK we have all had to make unprecedented sacrifices to protect each other and save lives, so it is deeply humbling to also see the British public responding so generously to those in the world’s most fragile places who desperately need our help.
“We are very fortunate here to have an incredible National Health Service which has cared for those who have fallen ill.
“The money so generously donated to the DEC appeal will help people in countries where there is no NHS; families who have fled conflict and hunger – and who are now living in overcrowded refugee and displacement camps with few hospital beds or medical supplies.”
The appeal is the first for a disaster that has simultaneously affected people in the UK and internationally.