Least prepared to respond
“If we take Yemen as an example, only 51% of health facilities are fully operational. This means two-thirds of Yemenites have no access to basic healthcare,” Luisa Bernal, Policy Specialist at UNDP, said.
“And then you add sanitation and hygiene issues where people don’t have access to clean water and it means the simplest action you can take to protect yourself and your family – washing your hands – is just not feasible.”
“Refugees and displaced populations are particularly vulnerable groups and the pandemic and measures to halt its spread is increasing the strain on host communities to provide support and essential services. It’s a very difficult situation,” said Bernal.
“If we take Yemen as an example, only 51% of health facilities are fully operational. This means two-thirds of Yemenites have no access to basic healthcare.”
– Luisa Bernal, UNDP Policy Specialist
Thankfully, the number of coronavirus cases in most fragile countries is still relatively low. But, the socioeconomic implications of the global, regional and local countermeasures to COVID-19 are already hitting fragile countries harder than others, said Habib Ur Rehman Mayar, Deputy General Secretary of the g7+, an intergovernmental organisation representing 20 fragile and conflict-affected countries.
“In Somalia, for example, 49% of revenue comes from remittances. This has dropped by more than 50?cause of lockdown measures in the US and UK that has meant Somalis working there have lost their jobs. Now they don’t have any money to send back to family in Somalia who depend on this financial support,” Mayar said.
Reframing international support
“The first priority for people in countries that are in conflict is to make and build peace. This is the time to realise that we all have one common enemy and that’s COVID-19.”
– Habib Ur Rehman Mayar, g7+ Deputy General Secretary
Remembering our humanity
Sustaining peace requires the international community to step up its support for economic recovery, Mayar said.
<align>“We hope that fragile countries are given debt relief. Their meager resources are rarely enough to provide needed care to their citizens during COVID-19. Failing to do so threatens the foundation of stability in these countries, most of which are on the verge of relapsing into crisis that will become a global threat,” he said.
Mayar hopes to raise awareness among the international community and in people around the world as to the plight of people living amid fragility and conflict, and who are experiencing the pandemic’s impacts on top of that.
“People in fragile countries have lived in lockdowns and curfews for months and in situations where even getting their basic necessities becomes a nightmare,” he said.
“Sometimes politics in international relations is guided on the assumptions of realism where actions of states are motivated by their respective national interest. We can forget that we are all one human family, dependent on each other.”
“I hope that this crisis helps nations and their leaders realise that we all can survive challenges like COVID-19 only if we cooperate with each other.”