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Global response needed to assist world’s poorest countries battle COVID-19

Members of Concern Worldwide's "Burial Team 7" attend the home of a 44 year old woman, who it's suspected died of ebola in the New England area of Freetown, on Wednesday night. 73 people were buried in on Wednesday October 29th in Western Area, which includes Freetown and its suburbs. All home deaths in the city are now attended by medical burial teams.
Members of a Concern burial team who helped to contain the devastating outbreak of Ebola in Sierra Leone. Photo: Kieran McConville.

Concern Worldwide today called on the international community to urgently assist the world’s poorest countries as they prepare to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 is a global humanitarian challenge, which needs an urgent global response,” Concern Worldwide CEO Dominic MacSorley said, as the charity published a number of recommendations for immediate action on the pandemic.

“The world’s extreme poor cannot be left to address this crisis on their own. The international community needs to rally behind them to contain the virus, as the faster the virus is stopped, the quicker and stronger the global recovery will be. If international donors adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach, when the response comes it could be too little, too late.”

Concern Worldwide welcomes the Irish Government’s €10 million contribution to the UN’s Global Humanitarian Response Plan, announced yesterday.

Reinforcing the call by the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, Concern is urging all international donors and governments to immediately join a concerted global effort to minimise the virus’s impact in already vulnerable humanitarian contexts. Many low income workers already affected by the global shutdown cannot survive without a daily wage and have no access to social supports.

An essential resource

“A one-size-fits-all approach will not work in complex settings such as crowded displacement camps, densely populated urban areas and situations of on-going conflict,” Mr MacSorley warned.

Non-government organisations (NGOs) with experience in responding to Ebola are an essential resource to responding to the COVID-19 crisis, he said. “First responders and NGOs must be supported to deliver assistance to the hardest to reach places,” he stressed.

The international community must also unite behind the UN Secretary General’s call for an immediate ceasefire in all conflicts. “The UN Security Council in particular has influence and authority to demand a universal cease fire,” Mr MacSorley said. “Extraordinary measures are required in extraordinary times. In areas devastated by conflict, we need to create vital aid corridors to reach those most vulnerable to COVID-19.”

Key recommendations

Concern’s recommendations are:

  • All countries must unite behind the UN Secretary-General to secure an immediate global ceasefire;
  • A concerted global effort is needed to minimise the impact of COVID-19 in already vulnerable humanitarian contexts, with context-relevant responses;
  • All donors and partners must maintain ongoing support to programmes for the most vulnerable;
  • Life-saving humanitarian activities such as the distribution of food and cash must be considered essential services and be exempt from restriction or impediment by authorities;
  • Donors must work with the humanitarian community, as well as with national governments to ensure responders have as much access as possible to vulnerable communities;
  • Governments and private sector, especially social media platforms and technology companies must put profit and politics aside to ensure factual, clear and unambiguous COVID-19 information is shared;
  • International cooperation, investment and accountability must be strengthened;
  • COVID-19 responses should be cognisant of existing conflict dynamics and ensure that responses target people in greatest need, following the principle of impartiality.


For media queries contact Eamon Timmins, Media Relations Manager, Concern Worldwide, at or 087 9880524

Download the report

To read Concern's full recommendations, please download the report below.

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