International Rescue Committee mobilizes global response to combat spread of Coronavirus to world’s most vulnerable

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With coronavirus spreading globally, and now confirmed in crisis-affected countries with International Rescue Committee (IRC) operations, like Afghanistan, Iraq, Burkina Faso and Venezuela, the IRC is ramping up its response to the outbreak with a focus on crisis zones with especially weak health systems.

The IRC is providing life-saving programs in countries threatened by the disease. We are working across three key areas: to mitigate and respond to the spread of coronavirus within vulnerable communities; protect IRC staff; and ensure the continuation of our life-saving programming as much as possible across more than 40 countries worldwide.

The International Rescue Committee is seeking US $30 million from the public, private sector, and governments to support preparedness and prevention efforts to combat the virus.

David MIliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said:

“Every member of the IRC family shares the concern of people in the hardest hit areas of the coronavirus outbreak. We send our sympathy to those who have already lost loved ones. At the same time, our priority for staff safety and frontline program continuity is driven by the knowledge that while coronavirus is a serious threat where there is a health system, its dangers are magnified in communities where there is no such system. This is a global disease and can be expected to hit all parts of the world – it's imperative to protect the most vulnerable.

“Refugees, families displaced from their homes, and those living in crisis will be hit the hardest by this outbreak. COVID-19 will thrive in active war zones like Yemen and Syria, putting the lives of thousands of civilians in even more danger, and is another reason for ceasefires to be implemented. Displaced and vulnerable families are often confined to overcrowded camps or cities where a disease like this can spread rapidly through the close-knit population. As the world struggles to deal with the fallout of COVID-19 across its richest nations, the needs of the most vulnerable must not be neglected or forgotten.

“The IRC is scaling up our work in many places with weak health systems that are simply not prepared to deal with an outbreak of this scale. We need a major injection of funding to help us mitigate the spread of the disease across our programs and ensure our life-saving work can continue to reach those in need. This is why we have launched a global appeal for US $30 million to support staff safety, program continuity and frontline response to the virus. And this includes our work to support vulnerable communities across the US — including refugees and other new Americans — as they face the economic and health challenges ahead.”

IRC response

The IRC has developed a comprehensive mitigation and response plan to protect our staff and vulnerable people we serve. Our first priority is to ensure the safety of our staff who are implementing humanitarian aid programs around the world. We are equipping them with the knowledge and supplies needed to work safely and ensuring the organization has the right policies and safeguards in place. Our second priority is to ensure that if and when the virus spreads to areas we operate in, our ongoing life-saving work can continue safely and without interruption as much as possible. And our third priority is to support containment efforts and mitigate the spread of the disease within communities.

We urgently need additional funding and support to put this plan into action across all areas of operation.

As a global organization operating in over 40 countries around the world, this is a complex situation, with serious implications for those we serve. The IRC has set up a Coronavirus Leadership Team to oversee our response and planning. As a humanitarian organization, the IRC is committed to doing all it can to continue services and support to the world’s most vulnerable, alongside prioritizing the safety and wellbeing of IRC staff. In terms of finance and operations, the IRC is monitoring disruptions to supply chains, financing and program costs, whilst working closely with partners and donors — both government and private — to raise money for the additional costs as a result of the global spread of coronavirus, and to meet new needs as they emerge.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Rescue Committee.

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