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CoronavirusThe Cambridges

The Duke of Cambridge speaks to Syrian aid workers about pandemic work


BBC still/ fair use

The Duke of Cambridge spoke with Syrian aid workers on a video call last week to learn more about the work of the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Coronavirus Appeal.

William spoke with Fadi Hallisso, Kawther Mohamad Ali, and Shahinaz Muamar, humanitarian aid workers in Syria, about how the DEC’s Coronavirus Appeal funding has been used to support refugees and displaced people in the region.

According to the DEC’s official website, William spoke with the aid workers about “the challenging situation in northwest Syria, their work to prevent the spread of Covid-19 there and treat infected patients, and how funds from the DEC appeal have been supporting them in this life-saving work.”

The DEC’s Coronavirus Appeal was launched in July 2020 to help the refugees and displaced people in Yemen, Syria, Somalia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Afghanistan as they navigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Kensington Palace, the Coronavirus Appeal has raised over £38 million, with £10 million matched by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office through the UK Aid Match.

William spoke with the DEC’s Chief Executive, Saleh Saeed, about how the UK’s support has “brought about lifesaving assistance and protection” in the region before speaking with the aid workers.

Hallisso told William that what’s happening in Syria is grim, and that the Idlib province “is overpopulated, overcrowded” and only 65% of hospitals are still functioning; and the economic situation isn’t much better.

“On top of that came the pandemic. People are often left with one of two choices, either to die of hunger if they stay at home, or to risk their lives if they go out and try to work and bring food to their families.”

William said, “I’m totally overwhelmed by the scale of the burden you guys face – the scale and challenge, but also the enormity of the dedication you have.

“As a fundraising initiative goes, that’s a decent amount. I know it’s nowhere near what you need, but £38 million in a coronavirus pandemic year is quite impressive.”

William heard from Kawther, an anaesthetist working in a COVID-19 ward in northwestern Syria, about how World Vision uses the DEC’s Coronavirus Appeal funds to support the hospital and provide personal protective equipment and training for COVID-19 treatment.

“The training was very useful and interesting,” Kawther said. “It definitely raised the level of knowledge of the team of doctors.”

Shahinaz told William about her work in camps for displaced people and how she has worked to share public health messages and coordinate delivery of clean water and hygiene kits through the CAFOD charity.

“We try to help people in camps to protect themselves from this virus. As we know, they live in a tent, they are so overcrowded. Death surrounds them everywhere. So we try to provide them with hygiene kits, clean kits and building latrines,” she said.

“You are all incredible heroes. I’m totally overwhelmed by the scale of the burden you guys face, the scale of the challenge, but also the enormity of the dedication you have,” William told the aid workers.

About author

Jess is the Senior Royal Reporter and Editorial Assistant at Royal Central. Her interest in royalty started in her teenage years, coinciding with The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 and grew from there. She specializes in the British Royal Family (with emphasis on the Cambridges) and the Danish Royal Family, and has provided royal commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia.