The United Nations set up a $2 billion humanitarian aid fund to help install hand-washing stations in refugee camps and assist coronavirus patients in places where hospital beds are nonexistent.
The UN said Wednesday the fund aims to supply tests and medical equipment to countries across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America where travel bans have blocked the arrival of necessary goods. The UN will also promote information campaigns with the help of non-governmental organizations.
“To leave the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries to their fate would be both cruel and unwise,” said Mark Lowcock, UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs. “If we leave coronavirus to spread freely in these places, we would be placing millions at high risk, whole regions will be tipped into chaos and the virus will have the opportunity to circle back around the globe.”
While rich countries such as the U.S. struggle with access to tests, poor countries are struggling with access to soap. Hand-washing is problematic in some parts of Africa because many people don’t have a source of clean water, Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s director for Africa, said last week. Social distancing is impossible in households where people don’t have enough space to shut off one room for a single person, she said.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has repeatedly said the disease is a menace for refugee camps.
Syria reported its first case of Covid-19 last week.
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