Corona Virus

(Image: U.S. Air Force)

As countries around the world work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, humanitarian workers have sounded the alarm over the risks that the virus poses to refugee camps.

Dr. Hussam Al Fakir—the chairman of UOSSM International, a humanitarian organization providing basic needs assistance in war-torn Syria—detailed the threat in a statement:

It is not a question of if, but when an outbreak will occur. We cannot let it start: there will be no stopping it. Our staff are still recovering from a relentless bombing campaign, how can they be expected to manage a pandemic without any protective gear?

From Syria to Greece, Yemen to Iran, refugee camps suffered from resource scarcity, overcrowding, and limited access to medical services before the COVID-19 outbreak began in late 2019. Now, as wealthier countries around the world face an economic retraction and struggle to cope with the pandemic, the situation in these camps will only worsen. With even fewer resources and growing panic around the globe, refugees could be exposed to extremely dangerous conditions that result in mass fatalities.

Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland further explains the threat that COVID-19 poses to vulnerable populations living in politically unstable or war-torn areas:

There will be carnage when the virus reaches parts of Syria, Yemen and Venezuela where hospitals have been demolished and health systems have collapsed. And when the virus hits overcrowded settlements in places like Iran, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Greece, the consequences will be devastating. We must act now.

While governments have a responsibility to protect their own populations from this fatal virus, they must also practice solidarity with other nations and displaced populations struggling to manage the crisis.

The rapid spread of COVID-19 highlights how interconnected the modern world is. It’s time that political leaders started acting it.

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