While the world's richest nations have struggled amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the virus poses an even deadlier threat to the most vulnerable communities.
Covid-19 is beginning to spread in refugee and internal displacement camps where people who have been forced from their homes after years of war or instability face another - unseen - enemy.
There are 24 million internally displaced people living in fragile states, such as Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan and South Sudan, as well as an additional 850,000 Rohingya people living in the world’s biggest refugee camp in Bangladesh.
In a bid to help those families who have lost everything the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) launched a UK-wide fundraising appeal on Tuesday.
The temporary settlements do not have enough clean running water and soap for people to protect themselves against the deadly virus, or basic medical supplies to treat those who fall ill, let alone enough ventilators and specialist equipment.
Despite the many challenges presented by the pandemic, the 14 DEC member charities are already currently working in refugee and displacement camps, but they urgently need more funds to continue to help these vulnerable communities on the brink of an unprecedented disaster.
The UK Government has pledged to match the first £5 million in donations made by the public to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).
Much of the money will go to refugee camps, where overcrowding and poor sanitation gives the virus much greater opportunity to spread.
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.