The lives of the many civilians in the conflict zones of the Middle East that are exposed to the pandemic are now even more vulnerable than ever. Years of civil wars in countries like Yemen, Libya or Syria have left almost no existing healthcare infrastructures, which leaves the vulnerable population with no access even to very basic services.
The official numbers of reported cases and victims announced in the failed states of the region are indeed highly unrealistic, especially considering the lack of a healthcare system, services, and an accountable government in charge of managing the crisis. The fact that even the healthcare systems of highly developed countries have crumbled under the pressure of the pandemic can be considered as a proof of the fact that official numbers reported in less developed countries are questionable at the very least.
It could be argued that a warmer climate than the one in which the coronavirus has initially thrived, along with an average younger population that is less exposed to the mortality rate of the virus could explain a less catastrophic impact on these troubled countries, however these factors have not been scientifically proven yet, and are probably not enough to protect the conflict zones of the Middle East from the heavy damages of the virus.
Being affected by the consequences of complicated proxy wars, which prevent them from having access to clean water and sanitation and other essential means to fight spread of the virus, and already suffering from a full-fledged humanitarian crisis, means that these populations are in need of aid to survive. Aids that more often are not even reaching them, since they are either being destroyed in military strikes or damaged on their way to the ones in need. The civilians that are daily coping to survive during the civil war of the last years are now facing another enemy even more difficult to defeat. In a time when peoples of all the countries are feeling responsible primarily for their own nation, war zone victims are simply the forgotten ones.
From an international perspective the conflict zones affected by the virus are basically left with no pattern to creating a strategy to deal with the pandemic, and with lack of accurate data, all the territories of the failed states are to be considered “red zones”.
The spread of the first wave of the coronavirus proved that the world is simply too interconnected to neglect any implication coming from any other region.
As much as many states worked individually to protect their borders, it was the social and group responsibility that made most of the damage control. Leaving the conflict areas alone in the time of pandemic now will only facilitate the spread of other waves of the pandemic. With no strong government and a civil society left struggling in the war zones, the need for raising the awareness and empowering the international organizations to provide aid and support to the conflict area becomes now more than ever a responsibility of each country and organisation that has the knowledge, resources and tools to prevent more disaster in the region.
For these reasons, supporting the people in countries with broken healthcare infrastructures, in high need of clean water and means to conduct social distancing, are indeed a collective responsibility for all the other countries in the world. War zones are now a ticking bomb, hidden from the public eye but ready to explode just in the moment when everyone is feeling safe again.
(You can read the last article by Ghazal Poorhasan here)