Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand and 13 other leading New Zealand international aid agencies have written an open letter to the Prime Minister requesting immediate help for people in crisis and emergency situations throughout the world who are also threatened by the coronavirus pandemic.
The letter, which was also addressed to the Deputy Prime Minister and to the Minister of Finance, warned that the coronavirus is anticipated to exact a catastrophic human toll in developing countries.
A projected death toll of at least 40 million people if interventions are not made, predicted by Imperial College, was cited.
It was noted that people living in refugee camps (for example, in Iraq and Syria) and in squatter camps (for example, outside Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea) are living in close quarters and have little or no access to running water close by, or to soap at a time when handwashing is a major way to help prevent the spread of the virus.
“What would it be like . . . at a single tap in your part of the refugee camp, that 250 other people also rely on? This is the reality for more than 900,000 people in Cox’s Bazaar refugee camp in Bangladesh,” the letter stated.
“It is for these people that we ask your Government to respond immediately to the unprecedented global coronavirus crisis by doing the following:
- Provide $NZ25million in immediate, additional humanitarian funding as part of an emergency coronavirus response to boost life-saving assistance for people already living in the world’s worst crisis and emergency situations.
- Advocate for the cancellation of all external debt payments due to be made in 2020 by developing country governments.
- Protect and maintain existing commitments to aid and climate finance.”
The letter praised the Government’s response to the pandemic in New Zealand, but also stated: “The coronavirus has spread to every corner of the globe, but so can our compassion. We request that New Zealand contribute to the collective pandemic response: no one is safe until we are all safe, and New Zealand is in a position to help.”