DEC launches coronavirus appeal to help people in refugee camps

The coalition of major humanitarian charities says people living in crowded temporary settlements are particularly vulnerable to the virus

A refugee camp in Syria (Photograph: Burak Kara/Getty Images)
A refugee camp in Syria (Photograph: Burak Kara/Getty Images)

The Disasters Emergency Committee has opened an appeal in response to the coronavirus crisis with a focus on people living in refugee camps.

The UK-wide fundraising appeal, which has been launched today, warns 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 are facing a deadly threat from Covid-19. 

In a statement, the DEC, which is a collaboration of 14 major aid charities that coordinates appeals for humanitarian crises, warned that 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 statement continued: “The 14 DEC member charities are already present and working in refugee and displacement camps, despite the many challenges presented by the pandemic. But they urgently need more funds to scale up their operations and save lives.”

The UK government said it would match-fund the first £5m of donations made to the appeal.

The DEC’s previous appeal for the Rohingya people fleeing persecution in Myanmar, opened in 2017, raised £30m while its Ebola crisis appeal, launched in 2014, raised £37m.

The largest response to a DEC appeal remains the £392m raised for people affected by the 2004 Asian tsunami.

DEC members include ActionAid, the British Red Cross, Oxfam and Tearfund.

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