In a joint statement, 51 Dutch development, human rights and emergency aid organisations argue that support to developing countries and to civil society organisations in those countries should be part of the emergency measures taken by the government. Foundation Max van der Stoel also signed the appeal.
In a short span of time, our lives have changed completely. The world is overwhelmed by its effects. We are searching for a way to deal with fear and uncertainty. At the same time, it is primarily solidarity with and protection of the most vulnerable that drives us.
Especially now, we take care of each other. We take good care of our family and friends and those who need it extra badly.
In the Netherlands, robust measures are being taken to protect the vulnerable, stop the spread of the virus and mitigate the social and economic impact on people and businesses.
What worries us is that international coordination and solidarity in combating and addressing this borderless problem is insufficient. Each country has its own approach within its own borders. While this is understandable in the short term, the virus does not stop at the border. This pandemic can only be checked with a coherent, cross-border approach.
Globally, we will have to show solidarity with the vulnerable. As humans, we owe that to ourselves and to each other. But that is also necessary for global public health, and therefore in the Dutch interest. Controlling this pandemic is also essential for the economy and our social security.
Most developing countries are currently only at the beginning of the epidemic and do not have a high-quality healthcare system, good water supply or a stable food supply. Health systems in these countries will soon collapse without additional support. On average, these countries have 50 times fewer doctors and 20 times fewer hospital beds per person than in Europe. The virus will also impact food supplies, for example, and reliable information about the virus and its control is a problem in many countries.
Not to mention fragile states that have been weakened by violence for years and have to cope with the situation in refugee camps and slums. Millions of people live densely packed, without electricity clean drinking water and lacking food. How can these safely keep their distance from each other and wash their hands regularly?
Moreover, measures in some countries risk working against people and widening existing inequalities. We see countries where parliaments are suspended and space for free press, opposition and human rights defenders is limited. Discrimination is intensifying and women's and girls' rights are under pressure. Think also of marginalised and persecuted communities, communities, such as the LGBT community, denied access to proper healthcare, or women who are structurally underpaid and have to take risks because they cannot afford to stay at home.
Support to developing countries, and to civil society organisations in those countries, is needed precisely in this time of crisis and should be part of the emergency measures taken by this government. Finally, António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, called on countries this week to contribute to an international emergency fund to deal with the corona crisis for good reason.
Without international solidarity, we undermine not only the approach to the pandemic but also the values of our society.
Amref Flying Doctors
Centre for Safety and Development
Foundation Max van der Stoel
Free Press Unlimited
International Campaign for Tibet
Justice and Peace Netherlands
Church in Action
Dutch Lawyers Committee for Human Rights
Peace Brigades International - Netherlands
Save a Child
Save the Children
SOS Children's Villages
Terre des Hommes
Word and Deed
Light for the World
Women Engage for a Common Future
International Justice Mission
Come over and help
People with a Mission