Coronavirus Appeal Latest updates

Coronavirus Appeal Latest updates

“Covid-19 has made the future for Yemen worse - the number of hungry people is climbing higher and higher” 

6 December 2021

Mohammed, an Oxfam aid worker in Yemen

“When Covid-19 arrived, our hospitals were just too weak and ill prepared to cope. Seven years of war in Yemen destroyed half of our health infrastructure and many doctors haven’t received salaries for four or five years.

Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, people here have been panicking. They haven’t known where to go or how to get help. 

The future looks very bad, with Covid, or without Covid. But from what we've seen in Yemen, the number of hungry people will climb higher and higher – that is for sure."

“If people in Syria go out, they are in danger from the conflict and Covid-19”

5 December 2021

Shahinaz (left) speaks to residents in a camp for displaced people Maaret Misrin, Syria.

The threat of winter looms in Syria where people are already dying from conflict and Covid, says aid worker Shahinaz Muamar, from a local partner of a DEC charity.

“We have seen many tough things in Syria over this last year, but the worst thing was Covid-19. A lot of hospitals are closed and because there are no beds, no oxygen, no place for people to be treated, people died outside or at home without any medical care. 

It’s coming to winter now, and cold and harsh weather is arriving. People need medical care, food and they desperately need warm clothes, blankets, and tarpaulins to protect their children from the rain and cold."

“Covid-19 has changed many things in India, leaving people struggling with hunger”

5 December 2021

Susmita (left) interacts with students during a class at a Multi Activity Centre in West Bengal, India.

People are left with the psychological trauma of losing loved ones and are struggling to earn a living, writes Susmita Guha, Senior Manager West Bengal, Save the Children India.

"We can see that Covid has changed many things – many small industries have shut down and thousands of people have lost their livelihoods. Covid goes on, but the biggest challenge now is for people to earn money – they’re struggling with hunger.  

It breaks my heart to see how the children from marginalised communities are suffering - with their education, their health, nutrition, and their mental wellbeing. I feel all of us who live in a better situation should offer a hand towards these children who are suffering with everything, but especially with hunger. "

“The people of DR Congo are strong, but Covid has stretched their resilience”

5 December 2021

Hebdavi, aid worker, speaks to a camp resident near Goma where Tearfund has provided water, hygiene and sanitation.

The pandemic is far from over in the DRC, but our work is saving and changing lives, writes Hebdavi Muhindo, Tearfund Country Director in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  

"I wish we were celebrating that the pandemic is over now but, unfortunately, it's far from over. It has gone on for so long, people are tired and their resilience has been stretched and stretched and stretched.

It’s been heart-breaking seeing people face impossible choices. Most people here rely on daily wages to survive, which means they have a tough choice to make: ‘Do I go out and risk it? I might die, I might catch the virus. But if I don’t go out, my children will almost certainly die of hunger.’   

I wake up in the morning, and sometimes it's frustrating, sometimes it hurts, but then I'm encouraged by one thing: I've seen that the work that we're doing is saving lives."

The pandemic is far from over - just ask aid workers on the frontline

5 December 2021

Mohammed, an Oxfam aid worker in Yemen

Aid workers in Syria, Yemen, DR Congo and India paint a grim picture of the pandemic grinding down vulnerable communities. But they also see the difference that humanitarian aid can make, writes Saleh Saeed, Chief Executive of the Disasters Emergency Committee.

Yemen hit by third wave of Covid as millions on the brink of starvation

8 October 2021

Three sisters in the camp they fled to with their parents.

Yemen has been hit by a third wave of Covid-19, as access to vaccinations and adequate healthcare remains out of reach for most of the population. The ongoing conflict has also brought millions to the brink of starvation as they can no longer afford to buy food. In the last month, DEC charity Oxfam reports a three-fold increase in Covid cases and a five-fold increase in the death rate, with only 1% of Yemenis vaccinated against the virus. 

“Right now, Yemenis are most afraid of hunger,” says Basheer. “An old man named Mahyoob told me that it’s better to die of Covid-19 than to die of hunger. He said, with Covid-19 you might have to suffer for one or two weeks before you die; with hunger you are suffering for years.”   

DEC charities are providing food, clean water, hygiene kits and access to healthcare with funds from our Coronavirus Appeal.

Malnourished children dying in Idlib hospitals overwhelmed by Covid

1 October 2021

Channel 4 News reports on the devastating impact of Covid on children and older people in Idlib, Syria, where hospitals are struggling to cope with an influx of coronavirus patients. Contains distressing scenes.

Hunger and Covid threaten lives in Syria as DEC donations support those most at risk

23 September 2021

90 year old Nada in a widows' camp in Idlib, Syria where DEC funds are providing support to older people.

Since July 2020, donations to the DEC’s Coronavirus Appeal have helped protect some of Syria’s most vulnerable communities from coronavirus by providing clean water, hygiene kits and supporting healthcare but poor facilities in camps and the growing hunger crisis are still putting lives at risk as the virus continues to circulate.

In Idlib, the number of Covid-19 cases have spiked alarmingly in the last month, according to the local administration. “We’ve stopped counting the waves,” says Hamza Algabra from Darna, a local partner of a DEC charity in Syria. “There is a big spread of Covid-19 in the camps due to lack of infrastructure."

For many Syrian families their most critical need is now access to food.  Years of instability, poor rainfall and a devastated economy have impacted food production, increasing cases of hunger and malnutrition.

An update on Afghanistan

18 August 2021

The recent conflict and change of government in Afghanistan have led many DEC member charities to pause their programmes in the country, including those funded by the DEC’s Coronavirus Appeal.

Funds from the DEC’s Coronavirus Appeal have been spent in Afghanistan since its launch in July 2020 to help people protect themselves from Covid-19 and deal with the secondary effects of the pandemic such as increasing hunger. You can find a summary of achievements in the first six months of the response in our Six-Month Report

Our member charities will continue to assess whether it’s possible and appropriate to continue these programmes as the situation on the ground becomes clearer. DEC member charities have decades of experience navigating these types of events in fragile contexts, and the DEC provides flexible funding to allow our members to adapt programming to meet the changing humanitarian needs of people affected by crises.

Donations to fund work in eight countries as appeal tops £55 million

9 June 2021

A displaced child in Yemen

With new variants of coronavirus threatening to overwhelm fragile health systems and the secondary effects of the pandemic driving up hunger, we will now be allocating donations to our Coronavirus Appeal across the eight countries covered by our appeal - Afghanistan, Bangladesh (Rohingya camps), DR Congo, India, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The scale of need is immense. Several countries are on the brink of famine as a result of the secondary effects of the pandemic, and Yemen and Syria have recently seen surges of Covid-19 largely masked by a lack of testing. It will be a long time before a significant proportion of the populations can be vaccinated in fragile states.

Between 28 April and 9 June, donations were prioritised for India, and during this time the DEC and our member charities raised an additional £14 million, bringing the total funds raised for the appeal to over £55 million. Donations from any fundraisers started during this time will still be directed to India. If you have any questions, please contact our supporter care team. We do not rule out further extensions of our appeal as the virus continues to circulate and mutate around the world.

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

14 May 2021

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

14 May 2021

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 below.

Update: Please note that donations are now being allocated where the need is greatest across eight countries. Between 28 April and 9 June when the DEC appeal focused on India, the DEC and its members raised £14 million.

'My city is under siege from Covid-19'

13 May 2021

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

10 May 2021

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.

UK public pull together for India

7 May 2021

Atul, who has raised over £19,000 for our Coronavirus Appeal, explains how you can donate through your local post office

Stories have been coming in about individuals, communities, associations and companies from around the UK who have been fundraising for the Coronavirus Appeal to help people in India through this crisis.

Atul Bathia, Postmaster at the Broadway Post Office in Wimbledon, whose grandfather was born in India, has already raised over £19,000.

“I have family and friends in India, and I speak to them daily," says Atul. "One is not very well at all. It’s so worrying. That’s why I chose to support the DEC. Their charities are there now, on the ground, ready, moving.”

India accounts for nearly half of new coronavirus cases worldwide

6 May 2021

Last week, almost half of all confirmd new cases of coronavirus worldwide occured in India and there were 412,000 new cases recorded yesterday.
At the same time, the top scientific advisor to the Indian government has warned that a third surge could be inevitable. Scientific advisors are saying that the country should prepare for another surge, but at present the country is struggling to deal with the second surge, which has left health care facilities overwhelmed and thousands unable to access potentially life saving treatment. 

The BBC has reported that there are also fears over a "double mutant variant" of the virus which was first discovered in March and has been linked to India's deadly second surge. 

Funeral pyres burn around the clock as India struggles with coronavirus

5 May 2021

RamKaran Mishra is a Hindu priest who performs the last rites at the Ghazipur crematorium in east Delhi.

In this distressing report from The Guardian, he describes the situation in the crematorium, where he is working extremely long hours, with funeral pyres burning around the clock and hospitals sending more bodies daily. 

'India needs the world's help now': Country united in fear of Covid-19

4 May 2021

As coronavirus cases surpass 20 million, health care facilities across India are overwhelmed and thousands of people are unable to access potentially life saving treatment. Lockdown measure are also having a knock-on effect for people’s livelihoods, with the poorest and most marginalised communities being hit hardest.  

People are “united in fearful expectation” according to Oxfam India’s Chief Executive Amitabh Behar. "People are literally dying on the streets or in car parks or in their homes. There is no one in India who doesn’t know of friends or family or colleagues who have not had Covid." 

Right now, DEC member charities are bringing vital aid to address the most urgent needs of people in India. These are assistance for healthcare, mitigating loss of livlihoods and preventing hunger, support for women and girls who are often disproportionately affected by disasters, and helping to prevent the spread of the virus. 

DEC extends Coronavirus Appeal to include India

27 April 2021

India is seeing a devastating and unprecedented surge in coronavirus infections that is overwhelming hospitals and leading to shortages of medicines and oxygen to treat patients. The official death toll has risen above 200,000 and funeral pyres are burning around the clock.

Due to the severity of the crisis, the DEC has extended its Coronavirus Appeal to include India. The appeal was launched last July to help people in six of the world's most fragile states -  Afghanistan, DR Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen - as well as the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh to protect themselves from the virus and has raised £41 million to date.

Update: As of 9 June 2021, we will be allocating donations to our Coronavirus Appeal where the needs are greatest across the eight countries covered by our appeal - Afghanistan, Bangladesh (Rohingya camps), DR Congo, India, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Between 28 April and 9 June, the DEC and our member charities raised an additional £14 million, bringing the total funds raised for the appeal to over £55 million. Donations from any fundraisers started during this time will still be directed to India. If you have any questions, please contact our supporter care team.

Coronavirus cases rising in Yemen and NE Syria

9 April 2021

Two of the places that DEC charities are using funds for this appeal are seeing a rapid rise in cases, the Independent reports.

Northeast Syria and Yemen have seen cases increase by 529% and 379% respectively. But as IRC points out, the true extent of the outbreaks is hidden by the 'fog of war' - a severe lack of testing. Read more below.

HRH The Duke of Cambridge speaks to Syrian aid workers on DEC video call

20 March 2021

Prince William sits in front of a laptop

HRH The Duke of Cambridge spoke to Syrian aid workers on a video call hosted by the DEC earlier this week.

During the call, The Duke spoke to the aid workers about the challenging situation in northwest Syria, their work to prevent the spread of Covid-19 there and treat infected patients, and how funds from the DEC appeal have been supporting them in this life-saving work.

Video: There's one thing we can all understand

1 March 2021

Today we launch a new video across TV and social media to highlight how the coronavirus pandemic is making existing problems in fragile states worse.

The video plays on the idea that the word 'coronavirus' is very similar in almost every language to show how universal it is, but then highlights how combined with conflict, displacement or hunger, it becomes a humanitarian crisis that the DEC's member charities are best placed to respond to.

Please share the video and let us know what you think in the YouTube comments.

Breaking Point: How the coronavirus pandemic will push fragile states towards catastrophe in 2021

28 February 2021

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

Today we publish an in-depth report, Breaking Point, into how the pandemic is affecting fragile states. The report shows how coronavirus deaths have been underreported, health services have been overwhelmed and famine is looming in several countries.

It includes the results of a survey of senior aid workers at DEC charities that found that 98% agree that the pandemic has worsened the humanitarian crisis where they work. 85% agreed that without increased funding, thousands are likely to die from hunger in their country in 2021. In Syria and Yemen, all those who expressed an opinion said the crises there were the worst they had been for 10 years.

In a joint foreword, Mark Lowcock, the UN's humanitarian chief, and Saleh Saeed, the DEC's Chief Executive, said that people in fragile states were living their "darkest hour of need". They added: "We fear the worst is still to come, and in the coming months we will face difficult choices about how to prioritise our assistance so that we can reduce suffering as effectively as possible."

Coronavirus Appeal climbs to £30 million

10 November 2020

£30 million graphic

Our appeal to help people in refugee camps and fragile states through the pandemic has now reached £30 million, thanks to the fantastic support of the British public. The milestone was reached with a generous donation from JK Rowling's charitable trust, The Volant Trust, funded by the author's new children's book, The Ickabog.

DEC Chief Executive Saleh Saeed said: “The UK public has demonstrated huge generosity at an extremely difficult time, helping people around the world facing the pandemic without the safety net of the NHS. We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who has supported the DEC Coronavirus Appeal so far.

“Today’s generous donation from The Volant Charitable Trust has helped push our appeal over the £30 million milestone, allowing our member charities to reach even more people with life-saving assistance."

Syrian orphans fighting poverty and Covid-19

18 September 2020

This devastating report from Channel 4 News shows the huge economic as well as medical challenges facing displaced people in Syria.

DEC charities are using funds from the Coronavirus Appeal in Idlib, helping people stay safe and healthy.

NHS workers lend their support to the Coronavirus Appeal

29 July 2020

A doctor, a nurse, a midwife and several surgeons have lent their support to our Coronavirus Appeal, asking people to imagine what it would be like facing the pandemic without a health service like ours and highlighting the plight of healthcare workers in fragile states. Please watch and share below.

Where are funds being spent?

25 July 2020

This video looks at each of the places where funds from this appeal are being spent, and what makes people there particularly vulnerable to the pandemic.

Coronavirus Appeal reaches £15 million

23 July 2020

£15 million graphic

The DEC Coronavirus Appeal has reached an incredible £15 million. DEC charities are now starting to use these funds to help people in the world's most fragile states protect themselves against Covid-19.

Aid being delivered includes:

  • In Yemen, Oxfam will be supplying clean water, handwashing facilities, hygiene kits and public health messaging; Action Against Hunger will be supporting health facilities and a mobile clinic with health services, including identifying and treating malnutrition.
  • In Syria, World Vision will be supporting a dedicated Covid hospital and health facilities with handwashing stations, PPE and other services, as well as providing households with soap.
  • In Somalia, Plan International will be installing water tanks and handwashing facilities at health centres and schools near camps for internally displaced people and Islamic Relief will be setting up screening stations to carry out surveillance and early detection at primary healthcare centres.
  • In South Sudan, Tearfund will be supporting health and nutrition centres as well as reaching out to people within church communities raising awareness about the need for improved hygiene practices and social distancing.
  • In Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), ActionAid will be installing handwashing facilities in households and Christian Aid will be targeting communities with health and hygiene information.
  • In Afghanistan, ActionAid will be providing households with hygiene kits and will be establishing handwashing stations.
  • In the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, Save the Children will be providing care to children and families with Covid-19 at its 60-bed Isolation and Treatment Centres; the Red Cross will be supporting health facilities and Age International will be helping older people and their care-givers.

A message from Martin Clunes

20 July 2020

19 July 2020

Two girls fill a jerry can at a water tank

Cousins Hadia*, 7, and Gamila*, 11, collect water from a water tank in a displacement camp near Aden, Yemen, where they live with their families after fleeing their homes in Taiz due to the war. Regular handwashing is a real challenge in camps like this where clean water scarce. Image: Alaa Alwadley/DEC

UN: Covid-19 will devastate poorest nations if west does not act

18 July 2020

The UN has issued a stark warning on the effect the pandemic could have on the world's poorest countries, saying that 1.7 million people could be killed there unless action is taken.

UN Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock added that the economic effects could also be devastating.

“Covid-19 and the associated global recession are about to wreak havoc in fragile and low-income countries. My message is that unless the rich countries and the G20 are prepared to act now we must be prepared for a series of human tragedies more brutal and destructive than any direct impacts in the virus itself. If the virus is free to circle the globe it will undo decades of development work and create a generation’s worth of tragic and exportable problems.”

Read more below.

Coronavirus Appeal raises £5 million in first day

16 July 2020

£5 million graphic

An incredible £5 million has been raised in the first day of the Coronavirus Appeal following broadcasts presented by Riz Ahmed and Anita Rani after last night's TV news.

DEC Chief Executive Saleh Saeed said:  "It is deeply humbling to also see the British public responding so generously to those in the world’s most fragile places who desperately need our help."

Thank you so much for your generous donations so far!

ITN Coronavirus Appeal broadcast

14 July 2020

This appeal with Riz Ahmed was broadcast on ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky after the news.

BBC Coronavirus Appeal broadcast

14 July 2020

This appeal with Anita Rani was broadcast after the six and ten o'clock news on BBC One.

DEC launches appeal to help people in fragile states face Covid-19

14 July 2020

The DEC is today launching the Coronavirus Appeal, bringing together 14 leading UK aid charities to call on the British public to help people in fragile states and refugee camps face the deadly new threat of Covid-19. Appeals will be broadcast this evening following the news on BBC One, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky.

The appeal aims to protect people from the virus in the world’s five most fragile states - Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and DR Congo - plus Afghanistan, the most fragile state in Asia, and the world’s largest refugee camp, in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

At an online press conference to launch the appeal, Saleh Saeed, the DEC's Chief Executive said: “Here in the UK, we’ve witnessed great suffering and made unprecedented sacrifices to protect each other and save lives. We have seen too the tireless dedication of staff in our amazing NHS.

“But, imagine living in one of the world’s most fragile states – where there is no NHS – and no other safety nets for the very poorest and most vulnerable."

Displaced people and refugees are at particular risk from the virus as they often live in crowded camps without running water or access to healthcare. DEC charities will use donations to provide soap and clean water, information on how to stay safe, as well as PPE and medical equipment to frontline healthworkers.