COVID-19 Pandemic Impacting Humanitarian Efforts

The COVID-19 pandemic presents unprecedented challenges across the globe. It is yet one more reminder of how everyone is connected. Disease knows no boundaries. No economic barriers. It affects us all.

As of this writing, the World Health Organization reports more than 209,000 cases and 8,778 deaths from the virus in 168 countries and territories. The number is expected to be much higher before it starts to subside. The pandemic is testing the health and economic systems of even the most developed nations. Shortages of equipment and medical supplies are already starting. In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance for reusing face masks and how doctors, nurses, and other health professionals can use scarves in the event of no other alternative.

The Impact is Being Seen Globally

Across the globe, humanitarian aid is facing new challenges. Border closings and restrictions are squeezing relief efforts and needed supplies. Non-essential supplies, including clothing, have slowed to a trickle in some counties. National, state, and local emergency orders are limiting what type of work can be performed. Planet Aid and Humana People to People's member organizations are already feeling the effects, resulting in a shift in their efforts.

In southern Africa, an area already suffering from food insecurity, the flow of food is already limited. South Africa, the port and logistical center for much of the region, has closed 35 out of 49 border posts. This includes a crucial crossing into Zimbabwe, where Planet Aid and Development Aid from People to People are supporting Child Aid and other projects.

"Ensuring food keeps flowing in and around countries is our top priority," a United Nation's World Food Program official said. The U.N. is currently in talks with government officials over cargo exemptions that need to be granted.

On March 15, 2020, the U.S. Peace Corps temporarily suspended volunteer operations and began evacuating volunteers from all posts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Planet Aid will continue to monitor the efforts and keep our community informed.