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‘By now, almost everyone here knows someone who has fallen ill or died’, says Richard Haep, our country director in Bolivia. ‘The poorest, among them the Venezuelan migrants and many indigenous communities, are particularly vulnerable to the pandemic. Many are faced with an impossible decision: having no income or exposing themselves to the huge risk of infection at work – in La Paz, taking into account the number of unreported cases, it is estimated that every tenth person is infected. Hospitals are overwhelmed, there is a shortage of medicines and oxygen.’
The number of infections is rising sharply in many developing countries. India is the third country, after the USA and Brazil, to have crossed the threshold of two million infections. Latin America now has the highest number of confirmed virus deaths in the world. In Africa, more than a million people are infected with coronavirus (confirmed cases), the actual number could, however, be significantly higher.
The poorest and most vulnerable people are hit hardest
In developing and emerging countries in particular, the Covid-19 pandemic is having a drastic impact: In many places, as in Bolivia, there is a lack of the most basic treatment options. There are no adequate and community-based healthcare systems. The economic and social consequences of the lockdown measures are catastrophic: Many people have neither regular employment nor savings to fall back on. Without a public, functioning welfare system, they quickly lose their livelihoods.
As always, the poorest and most vulnerable sections of the population are particularly hard hit in the current crisis. Even in normal times, they live from hand to mouth. Now, the poorest are pushed completely into hunger and destitution. Without income, there is no money for medicine, no money for enough food or other daily necessities.They suffer due to state-imposed curfews and the collapsing economy. They suffer due to higher food prices and the fact that their relatives abroad can send them less money, so-called remittances.
Caritas Switzerland’s measures in the project countries
Caritas Switzerland is committed to mitigating the fatal consequences for the weakest in society. We strengthen the hygiene measures in the project countries, raise awareness and provide survival assistance. Caritas Switzerland is allocating CHF 5.6 million to provide this help.
Find out how Caritas helps in practice (click on the flag for details):
Solidarity across borders
According to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the number of people at risk of suffering acute hunger could double to 265 million during the corona crisis. The World Bank estimates that up to 100 million people will slide into extreme poverty due to the pandemic. In the worst-case scenario, the United Nations (UN) is even assuming the number to be nearly 400 million people. This means that the number of people living on less than 2 Swiss francs per day would rise to more than a billion.
The corona pandemic and the associated social and economic dislocations threaten to reverse the global progress in poverty reduction by 20 years.
‘In order to prevent the corona crisis from becoming a global development crisis, solidarity must not stop at national borders. Especially in a worldwide health crisis, it becomes clear how important Swiss engagement in international cooperation with regard to the poorest countries is’, underlined Patrik Berlinger of Caritas Switzerland’s Development Policy Advisory Service, already at the beginning of the corona crisis.
Caritas Switzerland’s project work affected
The corona pandemic is also a great organisational challenge for Caritas Switzerland’s project work in around 20 countries. We are affected by national and international travel restrictions. However, we have long-standing employees on the spot who provide urgent emergency relief for those affected. ‘Wherever possible, we continue our project work for the affected population and try to quickly respond to the people’s new needs and provide emergency relief’, says Franziska Koller, the head of the International Cooperation Section of Caritas Switzerland.
Caritas Switzerland depends on donations to implement these projects.