Cafod has joined forces with the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to help millions of vulnerable people whose lives are at risk as the coronavirus pandemic spreads across refugee camps and countries suffering conflict. Families who have been forced to flee their homes in places including Syria, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, now face another deadly threat as coronavirus takes hold in new areas.
Cafod director, Christine Allen, said: ‘In the UK our struggle against coronavirus has entered the next phase, but in many of the world’s poorest communities the fight has only just begun. Families who have fled conflict, and are living in crowded camps or makeshift shelters, are especially vulnerable.
‘We need your support to reach these communities and help people to cope as best they can when an outbreak of the virus strikes. In many places around the world, there are not enough hospital beds or supplies to treat everyone who falls ill. But promoting handwashing and providing personal protective equipment, health advice and food parcels can make a huge difference.
‘The first coronavirus case has been confirmed in north-west Syria, causing alarm for a region where camps are over-crowded, and hospitals in ruins, after nearly ten years of war. It is critical that we act now to reach millions of vulnerable people who have lost everything and no longer have ways of coping. Working with the Disasters Emergency Committee will allow us to scale up our response and reach more people in need.’
Donations to the DEC’s Coronavirus Appeal will support vulnerable families by: providing handwashing facilities, clean water, soap and hand sanitiser; promoting public information messages on ways people can stay safe and protect others; and supporting health systems and aid workers by offering training, personal protective equipment and medical supplies for frontline responders.’
Cafod is already responding to the coronavirus crisis in some of the poorest countries in the world. Since launching its emergency appeal on 30 April, it has expanded its support to local aid workers who are providing food and improving handwashing and sanitation facilities in countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. It is also supporting the training of faith leaders in hygiene promotion and working with churches to use their networks to share clear and accurate information on how communities can protect themselves from coronavirus. This includes messages on Catholic radio stations and producing posters in local dialects.