SNP: Refugee camps need more help to fight coronavirus

Refugees and developing nations around the world need more help to fight Covid-19, SNP MPs have said.

Refugee camps and developing countries around the world need more help to fight coronavirus, SNP MPs have said.

The party says the department for international development (DfID) should go further in its support for charities and governments tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

A week ago, the UK committed an extra £200m to institutions helping to reduce mass infections in developing countries, including the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The SNP says refugee camps in places like Syria, Greece and Bangladesh could experience devastating outbreaks due to dense conditions and poor sanitation.

All of the party’s MPs have written to international development secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, welcoming the recent funding package but urging more targeted support.

The SNP’s shadow international development secretary Chris Law said: “The coronavirus crisis is a global threat that extends beyond borders and that is why the UK cannot shirk from its international responsibilities to tackle the pandemic.

“In contrast to the US administration’s decision to withdraw WHO funding, it is welcome news that the UK’s department for international development is taking steps to support the new UN appeal and working with international NGOs to address the impact of the virus in vulnerable parts of the world.

“Within our international community, the 70 million refugees across the world are some of the most vulnerable people that need protection and support – and while measures put forward so far are welcome, there is real urgency in going further to provide targeted support.”

Law said social distancing measures were impossible in many refugee camps.

He continued: “Within these already dense conditions, food distribution methods, shared facilities, lack of sanitation, and inadequate healthcare, all exacerbate the likelihood of Covid-19 spreading.

“It is distressing to hear accounts that in many camps soap and water are not readily available, while in some camps there are over 1300 people to a water tap and over 200 people to a toilet.

“We cannot abandon our international obligations and it is vital that the UK government – alongside our partners – steps up on the international stage and works to bring safety and supplies to those who have been left with nothing and have been pushed to the brink.”

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