What the coronavirus outbreak means for Palestinian refugees
Covid-19, commonly referred to as the coronavirus, is sweeping its way across the world, and on 11 March the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared it a pandemic.
Whilst the virus doesn't choose its victims based on social class or race, it will disproportionally affect the working classes, many communities of colour, and refugees, who all generally have less access to health care or no access at all.
To suggest that the virus will affect us all equally is unfortunately not true, and ignores the structures of inequity and oppression that exist all around us. In a state of global capitalism, crises like these will always affect the poor and marginalised more, as governments and corporations move quickly to implement political agendas and maximise profit.
Naomi Klein explains this as disaster capitalism and predicts that the coronavirus pandemic will be exploited to bail out industries and to push forward with certain political policies.
Palestinian refugees are among some of those most vulnerable to the pandemic in the region. So much so that UNRWA, the UN agency providing necessary services to Palestinian refugees, just launched an emergency 'flash appeal' to raise $14 million in order to respond to the virus in the countries in which it operates - the West Bank and Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria for three months.
UNRWA has already taken pre-emptive measures by closing all 144 of its schools, usually enrolling half a million students. The agency has also set up a medical hotline in an attempt to limit the number of physical visits to their field clinics.
Yet despite these pre-emptive measures and UNRWA's planning and preparation, they could quite easily be overwhelmed should there be an outbreak in any of the fields of operation - even if they do reach the $14 million that they so crucially need.