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Jersey aid to tackle global virus crises

Jersey aid to tackle global virus crises

Tuesday 19 May 2020

Jersey aid to tackle global virus crises


Jersey’s humanitarian aid body will see its donations redirected to help developing countries tackle health and economic crises brought on by the outbreak of covid-19, it has emerged.

The Jersey Overseas Aid Commission's (JOA) pre-existing grants will be funnelled into lending a hand where corona virus has ravaged some of the world’s developing countries, and it’s preparing to issue further grants to provide support elsewhere.

The details of the relief projects were announced in response to a written question from Deputy Kirsten Morel to Minister for International Development Deputy Carolyn Labey.

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Pictured: The question was posed by backbencher Deputy Kirsten Morel. 

Deputy Morel asked: “What work is the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission undertaking in response to the international covid-19 crisis to help communities outside Jersey to cope with, or manage, the pandemic; what level of funding is the Commission providing to support this work and the work of other international agencies; and in what countries is this funding being used in the fight against covid-19?” 

Responding to the query, the International Development Minister emphasises that the virus “threatens the whole of humanity, not only with this possibility of sickness and death on a huge scale, but with the crippling of the global economy and the prospect of enormous increases in scarcity, unemployment and poverty.”

She continues: “Poor nations – and within them their poorest inhabitants – will suffer the most.”

Jersey’s efforts, she explains will come out of the already allocated JOA budget and will therefore be “at no additional cost to the public purse.”

Deputy Labey then details exactly which projects the JOA is supporting and to what value. Firstly, she states that grants donated by the Commission to the UN and Start Network (led by an NGO) worth £1.05million are being directed as humanitarian aid in Syria and Bangladesh.

These consist of 31 sanitation projects and supporting the world’s largest refugee camp to prepare for the outbreak, respectively.

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Pictured: Sanitation in Syria will be supported by a portion of the grant from Jersey.

Elsewhere, JOA has had a hand in helping health-related projects in Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Myanmar to buy personal protective equipment (PPE), create units for isolation and instigate education programmes in villages.

Deputy Labey adds: “Meanwhile together with Comic Relief we are reallocating a portion of our joint Financial Inclusion programme to help ensure the poorest people in Zambia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone can remain solvent by accessing basic financial services.”

In addition to this, the Minister explains that part of the JOA’s role is to monitor the situation closely.

“Thousands of Jersey’s beneficiaries, for example, in addition to facing infection and poverty, have been bombed while we have been in lockdown. As well as receiving reports from grantees on the ground, Jersey is in close touch with other donors, UN Agencies, the World Bank and the Red Cross movement to monitor needs and assess response options.” 

In terms of the impact on the Commission’s planned grants for the year, the Minister reports that no new grants have been made since the outbreak, but they are preparing to issue further grants by delaying two planned projects.

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Pictured: JOA are preparing to issue further covid grants by delaying two planned projects worth £530,000. 

Of this, Deputy Labey explains: “Since March JOA has been cooperating with Treasury to ensure that Jersey had sufficient cash on hand to fight the coronavirus domestically. It has also been prudent to take time to build up a more detailed picture of the impact of the virus on the world’s poorest. Therefore, Jersey has not yet made any new grants to help communities outside Jersey to fight the pandemic.

“However, we are now preparing to do so. JOA will delay the start of two planned dairy projects worth £530,000 to enable us to use these funds for immediate humanitarian needs. In addition to the close monitoring mentioned above, we have requested specific proposals from eight partner agencies, and Commissioners will be meeting in late May to discuss these options.” 

Concluding her response, the International Development Minister stated: “During what may well prove to be the greatest humanitarian crisis of our generation, we will be able to tell our children ‘Jersey was there’.”

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