You might have heard British writer Damian Barr quoted at some point over the past year:
“We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm. Some are on super-yachts. Some have just the one oar.”
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted us all, but not equally. What should have been an indiscriminate equalizer, a deadly air-borne virus that does not respect borders, has laid bare inequality on a global scale. Wealthy countries shored up against the storm, often leaving our poorer and more vulnerable neighbours at the mercy of the elements.
The simple fact of a person’s birthplace has had a stark effect on their outlook in this pandemic. If you become very sick from coronavirus in South Sudan and need to be ventilated, you will be relying on one of only a handful of ventilators serving a population of 12 million people. The UN predicts that nearly half of all existing jobs in Africa could be lost during the pandemic, and with no government furlough schemes to provide a safety net, hundreds of millions of people worldwide have fallen into extreme poverty.
Indeed, some of us face this pandemic with a much stronger boat than others.
This divide is seen particularly sharply in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. Christian Aid has been working in the region since the early 1950s, when we first provided humanitarian relief to Palestinian refugees.
Life in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory was never ‘normal’ as we know it, with Palestinians in the region having already faced extreme restrictions on their movement for many years. With one of the highest population densities in the world, a devastating air, sea and land blockade and unemployment levels of nearly 50%, life in Gaza in particular was a daily struggle before the coronavirus pandemic hit last March.
Further restrictions to prevent coronavirus from spreading have resulted in more people losing vital income, making it even harder for families to put food on the table.