A family member looks on as several funeral pyres of those patients who died of COVID-19 disease burn up
A family member looks on as several funeral pyres of those patients who died of COVID-19 disease burn up



A family member looks on as funeral pyres of coronavirus patients burn during a mass cremation in New Delhi. Image: Naveen Sharma/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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Key facts

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2.7 million

confirmed new cases of Covid-19 in India last week, a global record

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total confirmed coronavirus deaths in India, though the actual figure may be higher

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275 million

people in India who live on less than £1.40 per day

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countries where funds are being spent. Donations from 28 April will be used in India

India is facing an unprecedented wave of coronavirus infections. Hospitals are overwhelmed and people are going without potentially life-saving treatment.

Oxygen supplies are falling short of demand and funeral pyres are burning around the clock. Several cities have imposed lockdowns and curfews, which have a knock-on effect for people’s livelihoods, with the poorest and most marginalised communities being hit hardest.

Given the severity of the crisis, we have extended our Coronavirus Appeal to include India. DEC charities, who have a long history of working with the most vulnerable communities in India, are responding to the crisis by providing medical supplies, treatment facilities and logistics support to overwhelmed health services. With your help, we can do more to help the most vulnerable communities as they face a life-or-death situation.

Since its launch in July 2020, the DEC Coronavirus Appeal has raised £41 million and this funding is being spent by DEC charities across the seven fragile places the appeal was launched for, including Yemen, Syria and South Sudan. Given the devastating coronavirus surge in India at the moment, we extended our appeal to include India on 28 April 2021 and, as of this date, all donations received will be used to respond to the crisis in India. In the months ahead, spending priorities could change as the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold around the world and at that time we will communicate any change to how appeal funds will be spent.


Help India's most vulnerable people face a devastating coronavirus surge.

We need your help to: 

  • support India’s health system with PPE, equipment, and isolation and medical care facilities
  • help give vulnerable families the means to protect themselves with water, soap, handwashing stations and information
  • ensure that the Covid-19 crisis doesn’t mean people go hungry and children become malnourished.

A donation from you could help the most vulnerable communities in India as they face a life-or-death situation.

  • £20 could provide a medical kit to a vulnerable person
  • £50 could provide essential hygiene kits to two families
  • £100 could provide PPE for ten frontline health workers
Medical works care for patients in a makeshift ward

Healthcare workers in PPE attend to Covid-19 patients in a makeshift isolation ward in a banquet hall in New Delhi. Image: Naveen Sharma/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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DEC charities not being prevented from delivering aid by Indian NGO law

Oxfam staff unload an oxygen concentrator

There have been media reports that some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in India have been prevented from distributing oxygen concentrators from foreign donors and suppling them to the government due to changes in legislation.

However, this legislation is not affecting DEC charities’ ability to support healthcare facilities in the country due to their long-standing presence in the country. DEC charities are working closely with health authorities to deliver on their requests – including regionally procured oxygen concentrators – coordinating with the Indian Health Ministry as well as hospitals, clinics and health facilities at state, regional and local level.

Madara Hettiarachchi, DEC Director of Programmes and Accountability said: “DEC charities’ are using donations to support health systems in India, including delivering oxygen concentrators and other life-saving equipment. For example, member charities have quickly set up treatment facilities in rural areas where there aren’t enough beds to cope with this devastating second wave."

Actor Himesh Patel backs urgent DEC appeal for India

Actor Himesh Patel has backed our appeal for India, appearing in a video calling for support. Donations for India have now reached £5 million since the appeal was extended two weeks ago.

Calling for more funds to enable DEC charities to continue to scale up their operations, Patel said: “Family and friends with relatives in the country have been telling me that the reality is as bad as, if not worse than, what we have seen on our screens." You can watch the appeal and donate below.

'My city is under siege from Covid-19'

The BBC has posted this incredibly powerful and moving report from India editor Vikas Pandey about the impact coronavirus is having in Delhi. Pandey says that the city is unrecognisable, and that everyone has been touched by the crisis, himself included. The report contains distressing scenes.

Aid workers warn of 'unnoticed disaster' in rural India

The devastating impact of Covid-19 in rural India is becoming apparent as DEC charities are highlighting shortages of simple devices and tests that we take for granted in the UK. 

Here it is not only oxygen and ventilators that are in short supply – even pulse oximeters to measure oxygen saturation levels and thermometers are commonly unavailable, according to HelpAge India, local partner of Age International.

The health facilities in rural districts in states like Bihar are far less prepared for this wave of Covid-19 than those in the capital Delhi, where a lack of beds, supplies and oxygen have led to people dying while waiting for treatment.

Rates of Covid-19 in rural areas are thought to be three times higher than reported due to lack of testing.

A boy stands at the entrance to a tent in a muddy camp in Syria

Farid* stands at the entrance to his tent in a displacement camp in Syria. Image: Karam Almasri/DEC

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Coronavirus in fragile states

Launched in July 2020, the DEC Coronavirus Appeal has been funding work in six of the world's most fragile states - Afghanistan, DR Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen - as well as the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh.

Our in-depth Breaking Point report examines how the pandemic is pushing these places towards catastrophe and how DEC charities have been using donations to help people affected.

A woman holds up a cake at a DEC fundraiser


Help vulnerable communities in India protect themselves from Covid-19 by completing a sponsored challenge, holding an event or asking for donations for your birthday.


Find out more about how DEC charities used donations.