A new and deadly threat

Five things you need to know about Coronavirus and families living through disaster

  1. When you lose your home after a disaster or in a conflict, your ability to stay safe and healthy is already compromised.
  2. 84% of the 70.7 million people driven from their homes by conflict live in the least developed countries in the world where support is already limited.
  3. Coronavirus will impact the hospitals and health care systems in less developed countries far more severely than in developed countries like the UK.
  4. Providing emergency shelter and other essential items after disaster not only helps families recover but can also offer a place where families can be together away from others in the midst of a Coronavirus outbreak.
  5. The Coronavirus pandemic is a global crisis affecting all of us. Now imagine the nightmare of living in one of the least developed countries and dealing with a disaster or conflict on top of Coronavirus… without the support you need.
People in a refugee camp in Syria
Our partners working in already difficult conditions in Syria.

Like you, the team here at ShelterBox are concerned about the impact Coronavirus is having on our lives and the world around us.

We are lucky to be living in a country with robust health services and significant medical resources. Most of us are able to self-isolate in our own homes and care for ourselves and each other.

Yet for people who are homeless because of conflict or other disaster, Coronavirus is a new and deadly threat. Millions of families around the world have had resources stripped from them and have nothing no way of protecting themselves and their children. And they have no access to healthcare.


Coronavirus is shining a spotlight on the fundamental importance of home to our health and wellbeing, and our ability to deal with the serious problems that life can bring. Whilst we are adapting to new routines, working from home or self-isolating, we can all appreciate how important our home is for our physical and mental health.

All of our lives are being affected by Coronavirus in some way, but those living in refugee camps or in makeshift settlements are particularly vulnerable. Imagine being seriously ill with no roof over your head. There’s little hope of ‘social distancing’ when there are no blankets to keep your children warm. You can’t wash your hands frequently when there is no clean water. You can’t make your children nutritious meals when there is not enough food, nowhere to cook and nothing to cook it in.

We face uncertain and unprecedented times.

Compassion and dedication to humanitarian values are more important than ever. Together we can continue to make sure families around the world receive the emergency shelter they need.

We are still supporting families after disaster

We've been supporting families in Somaliland affected by severe drought.

At ShelterBox, we continually seek new ways to tackle the challenges we face, proactively researching new ideas and adapting to changing circumstances.

Travel restrictions will make our work more challenging, however, we are committed to providing vulnerable families with a place to call home through this Coronavirus outbreak. Our powerful partnerships are going to be more important than ever.

Here are a few of the ways we are working to support families around the world after disaster…

  • We continue to work with our local partners in Syria and Somaliland and we have projects coming up soon with communities in Cameroon and Ethiopia.
  • We have aid prepositioned around the world, in Belgium Dubai, Panama, the Philippines, and ready to be used if needed.
  • Our work monitoring disasters around the world is unaffected.
  • We have a global network of affiliate organisations, volunteers and Rotary contacts, and when disaster strikes, we will work together to find new and innovative ways to reach communities who need support.

The Conflict in Syria

Syrian boy holds water carrier humanitarian aid

Emergency shelter like tents and tarpaulins offer people the place to call home. They provide a private space where families can be together.

Our largest and longest-running response is helping families affected by the war in Syria. We work through trusted partners locally in Syria and we are maintaining this vital work through the pandemic.

Our work in Syria

Working with our partners

We are partners with The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). This allows us to support each other with access in response situations and means we can share training and coordinate our work supporting families after disasters.

We are partners with Habitat for Humanity who also allows us to reach more communities who need support, and this year we helped families in Malawi and Paraguay together as part of this global agreement.

There are also organisations that we partner with on individual responses. These organisations are critical for making sure we can reach people who need support and provide emergency shelter, often in extremely risky situations.

In Cameroon we partner with IEDA Relief, in Ethiopia the International Organisation for Migration, in Nigeria ACTED, in Somaliland ActionAid, and in Syria we partner with ReliefAid and Bahar Organisation.

Want to know more?

If you’d like to know more about how Coronavirus is affecting our work, please visit our FAQs.

Read FAQs

Vulnerable families face Coronavirus threat

We are helping families now and our vital support will help keep people as healthy as possible.

Image credit: Muhammed Said/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images