Over the last few months, we have seen how COVID-19 crossed administrative and national boundaries at the speed of fire – leaving nobody untouched. We believe that lessons learned from previous research investigating the relationships between disasters, social inequalities and how health determinants may exacerbate vulnerability will be key to overcoming the COVID-19 crisis. The reported mortality rate exceeded 200,000 this week, and the news headlines so far mainly describe ‘western’ end-of-life-stories of elderly or people with pre-existing health conditions. However, what will happen now that the pandemic has entered ultra-vulnerable places such as refugee camps and informal settlements in the global south? ‘Wash your hands, self-isolate, social distancing, please!’—but how do you self-isolate in a refugee camp? Refugee camps and slums are socially constructed and often considered temporary ‘places’. However, some of these ‘temporary places’ have existed for decades and have housed several generations. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned these places into ticking bombs. Infectious diseases will easily wreak havoc given the social and physical conditions. In this article, building on our research experience, we draw urgent attention to some of the current living conditions and scenarios that we will need to safeguard around and propose ways forward.
Read the full journal article here.