Updated: May 11, 2020
COVID-19 has made societal problems and global inequalities more visible. While the USA and China continues in power struggles and blame game, vulnerable groups around the world suffer abuse – the deficiency of health care systems, segregation in refugee homes and Migrants in general with some migrants forced to stay home beside lockdown regulations. Lots of Persons with Disabilities in the Global South have lost hope while some seniors are giving up to death. Conspiracy theorists are of the opinion that this is a pandemic sent by proponents of Population reduction. But the pandemic has wreaked more havoc than what conspiracy theorists have argued. There has never been a time when solidarity was need than this.
Lockdown measures are beginning to reduce in most nations of the west with more emphasis placed on rational living, altruism and protection for the vulnerable. A selfless thinking and action are hereby required. The effect of the pandemic is however now felt in most countries of the Global South than could be imagined. While some nations ensure strict lockdowns others are undergoing soft restrictions. India with over 1.3 billion people was asked to retreat from the street. In other countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Indonesia soft restriction measures are put in place. But how are people with disabilities and the aged – who belong to the risk groups, surviving in these unprecedented times? What solidarity measures are put in place to support them?
Crisis Management: The Perspective of the Global South
For most of the nations in the Global South COVID-19 and it resulting lockdowns are a big disaster; a catastrophe that could lead to the melt down of individuals, families, societies as well as governments. To deal with disasters like this one, the United Nations created (in 2000) the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR). The subsidiary unit of the UNDRR, formed to lay down risk management strategies, The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) among its many guiding principles defines disaster as:
“A serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society causing widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses which exceed the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources. A disaster is a function of the risk process. It results from the combination of hazards, conditions of vulnerability and insufficient capacity or measures to reduce the potential negative consequences of risk” (UNISDR 2004, S. 1).
COVID-19 is a Global disaster that has affected health care systems, economies and social life. Unlike most nations of the west which have federal and national financial reserves to meet unforeseen contingencies like this Pandemic, nations of the Global South do not possess this. Government response to crisis has usually been an ad hoc move. It makes them even more vulnerable and more dependent in times like this. This is why solidarity both from within and without especially for vulnerable groups such as People with Disabilities, Aged and Refugees are very essential. This will help to reduce the risk of a meltdown among these groups.
Solidarity sent out and still more needed
Situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic demand solidarity and not anger and rejection. While others are using the blame game it is incumbent to know our supports are much needed now than ever; a globally coordinated response and a locally selfless support. We need to mitigate the spread of panic, be there for each other even if it means communication via the Internet. In Europe many solidarity groups including quarantine help and Neighborhood support groups have been formed since the beginning of March, which provide assistance to people who have the virus infection and are therefore required to be quarantined, as well as other vulnerable persons. Social Workers are working around the clock to support clients and to reduce inequalities, just to mention a few.
Such support groups are duplicated in many nations of the Global South. In India, D.O.R.A.I Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) registered with the Charity Commission of Mumbai has in the last weeks donated Dozens of food items to many vulnerable groups in Chennai and the surrounding cities. These include Food and other relief items to over 300 families of Persons with Disabilities in Matru Ula, Kannagi Nagar, OMR PWD and North Madras areas. It provided additional support to over 100 Aged people in the suburb and the Transgender society in Chennai. The Owners of the Foundation ardently continues to support vulnerable families of India. The Social Rehabilitation Service Unit for Children with Disabilities (Unit Layanan Rehabilitasi Sosial Anak Penyandang Disabilitas – ULRS-APD) in Bahasa Indonesia has been providing online therapeutic services to families with children with disabilities. Their aim is to be there for the kids while social distancing. Also in Ghana, Aged Help Ghana has extended aids to many seniors and people with disabilities in Koforidua, Akropong and other suburb in the Eastern region of Ghana. Government supports keep going out for vulnerable groups.
We want to use this platform to thank all of these organizations while we call on your support to boost work of these organizations extend support and aid to people in need during the COVID-19 crisis. Any little help will be appreciated.