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.
But millions of families who are homeless because of conflict or other disaster have no way of protecting themselves and their children. And they have no access to healthcare.
Here are five things you need to know about coronavirus and how it’s affecting 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.
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.
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.
There are also several other risk factors in less developed countries.
Communal living, underlying health conditions like malnutrition and a lack of access to water or washing facilities will all make the fight against coronavirus much harder.
The potential impact of the virus in places where we’re already working is terrifying
3. Coronavirus will impact the hospitals and health care systems in less developed countries far more severely than in developed countries like the UK.
In many less developed countries, health care systems are already strained. At least half of the world’s population didn’t have access to essential medical care even before the virus struck (WHO).
In the UK there are 6.6 critical care beds to every 100,000 people. But in places like Uganda, there are 0.1 to every 100,000 people. And this isn’t the worst of it. In Liberia, for example, there are no intensive care unit (ICU) beds with ventilators (World Economic Forum).
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.
Our tents and shelter kits can help people to keep distance from each other. In fact, it is vital for helping people to move from overcrowded camps and collective centres to a more private space.
By keeping people warm and dry, giving them the ability to create meals and drink clean water, our blankets, sleeping mats, water filters and cooking sets can help families to stay as healthy as possible.
In addition to our essential shelter aid, we are also providing hand soap and wash basins in Syria. This minor but meaningful change will enable families to protect themselves as much as possible from the deadly virus.
As coronavirus spreads, shelter saves lives.
5. The coronavirus pandemic is a global crisis affecting all of us.
No matter where we’re from, we’re all in this together.
To win the fight against the virus, we must support the most vulnerable people – from Syrian refugees to displaced families in Cameroon. It’s not over until it’s over everywhere.
Read more about how we are supporting families through the coronavirus pandemic here.