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2 April 2020

The COVID-19 crisis requires national and international solidarity

In a joint appeal, Simavi and over forty development, human rights and emergency aid organisations argue that support for developing countries and civil society organisations in those countries should be part of the Dutch government’s emergency measures to combat COVID-19.

We are concerned about the lack of international coordination and solidarity in combating the corona crisis. Although most developing countries are currently only at the beginning of the pandemic, most do not have a high-quality health care system. In addition, measures in some countries threaten to work against people and increase existing inequalities.

Appeal for international solidarity in tackling the coronavirus

Our lives have changed completely in a short time as the world is being overwhelmed by the effects of this virus. We are all looking for a way to deal with new fears and uncertainties. At the same time, it is mainly solidarity with and protection for the most vulnerable that drives us.

Now more than ever, we are thinking about each other, taking good care of our family and friends and those who need extra attention.

In the Netherlands, strong measures are in place to protect the vulnerable, prevent the spread of the virus and mitigate the social and economic impact on people and companies.

But we are concerned that international coordination and solidarity in combating and tackling this worldwide problem is insufficient. Each country has its own approach within its own borders. Although that is understandable in the short term, the virus does not stop at the border. This pandemic can only be controlled with a coherent, cross-border approach.

We will have to show solidarity with vulnerable people everywhere in the world. As human beings we owe this to ourselves and to each other. But it is also necessary for global public health, and therefore in the Dutch interest. Curbing this pandemic is also essential for the economy and our social security.

Many developing countries are just now beginning to experience the pandemic, and most do not have a high-quality health care system, good waterworks or a stable food supply. Health care in these countries will quickly collapse without additional support.

On average, developing countries have 50 times fewer doctors and 20 times fewer hospital beds per person than in Europe.

The virus will also have an impact on the food supply, and finding reliable information about the virus and its control is a problem in many countries.

Not to mention fragile states that have been weakened by years of conflict and have to deal with overcrowded refugee camps and slums. Here millions of people live in close quarters, without electricity, clean drinking water, or a regular food supply. How can they keep a safe distance from each other and wash their hands frequently?

In addition, measures in some countries threaten to work against people and increase existing inequalities. We see parliaments being closed and space for free press, opposition and human rights defenders limited. Discrimination is on the rise, and women’s and girls’ rights are under pressure. Think, for example, of marginalised and persecuted groups – like the LGBTI community – that do not have access to good health care. Or women who are structurally underpaid and have to take risks because they cannot afford to stay at home.

Support for developing countries and civil society organisations in these countries is necessary, especially in this time of crisis, and should be part of the emergency measures taken by this cabinet. Finally, it is with very good reason that António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, called on countries this week to contribute to an international emergency fund to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

Without international solidarity, we do not only undermine efforts to tackle the pandemic, but also the values ​​of our society.

Signatories of the appeal:

ActionAid

Amref Flying Doctors

Arisa

CARE Nederland

Centre for Safety and Development

CNV International

COC Nederland

Cordaid

Dorcas

Foundation Max van der Stoel

Free Press Unlimited

GZB

Heifer

Hivos

ICCO

International Campaign for Tibet

International Justice Mission

Justice and Peace Netherlands

Kerk in Actie

Kom over en help

Leprazending

Liliane Fonds

Mensen met een Missie

Mercy Corps

MIVA

Nederlands Juristen Comité voor de Mensenrechten

ONE Campaign

Oxfam Novib

Partos

Pax

Peace Brigades International – Nederland

Plan International

Prisma

Red een Kind

RNW Media

Rutgers

Save the Children

Simavi

SOS Kinderdorpen

Terre des Hommes

Tear

Verre Naasten

VSO Nederland

Wemos

Woord en Daad

ZOA

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