As of Sunday morning, April 5, there are approximately 1.25 million cases of the novel coronavirus globally. More than half of these cases belong to the United States and Europe. However, the virus does not stop at those borders and has reached Africa and Asia. At home we have seen the panic and sadness these viruses have brought to communities. The United States, with its caliber of resources, research and financial capital, is struggling to flatten the curve. The media’s 24-hour coverage has showcased both the stories of heroism and those of willful neglect. Yet, I fear the worst is yet to come.
If the most powerful country in the world is unable to deal with this crisis, how will the Global South? Without much international aid and tests, entire nations are sending their troops into battle. NPR reports, “Regional experts say a widespread pandemic in Africa could cripple the continent’s fragile healthcare systems and be devastating economically. It also could be difficult to contain while foreign donor nations that traditionally assist the continent in such crises are overwhelmed with their own outbreaks.” Not only are the death tolls predicted to be higher due to these nations’ healthcare capacities, there are long term effects to be taken into consideration.
This bleak prediction is coming true before our eyes. Country-wide lockdowns have deep dived already struggling economies into panic as the unemployed starve with their families in remote villages. In India, one of the largest intraborder migrations in modern history occurred after the nation was placed on lockdown. Thousands used train, bus and foot to travel hundreds of miles out of urban centers such as New Delhi to rural villages. In Pakistan, a similar scene; family breadwinners are roaming the streets for work whilst the military delivers rations door to door. Out of Iran emerge the most haunting images of this crisis: mass graves.
Despite African nations acting fast by implementing partial or full travel bans on visitors from Europe, America and other hard-hit regions, similar grim realities are experienced on the ground. The response of these nations is to limit the damages as much as possible. South Africa imposed a 21-day national lockdown. Yet, in the Global South, the crisis will also have long-term impacts.
With the world’s most fragile democracies at risk, increased security force presence is worrying. Al Jazeera reports, “In Zimbabwe, a 21-day army-enforced lockdown began this week. Last January, when the government raised the price of fuel by 150%, protests quickly turned violent as civilians and security forces clashed. Today, the same military is expected to come in defense of the population against the pandemic.” Contrasting this with how likely after this crisis residents of developed nations are secure that their political and judicial systems will remain stable. This is not the case for nations in the Global South who will try to sustain increases in state power.
Moreover, countries with ethno-religious conflicts are feared to be taking advantage of the crisis by distributing goods on these bases or shutting down minority areas particularly harshly. The international community has called for a cessation of conflict in Myanmar and Israel. However, settler violence has increased in Palestine. As refugees continue to flee, the largest refugee camps have become potential hotspots. The most vulnerable populations are going to be the hardest hit.
This past month has been hard on all of us, and much of the student body returned to environments not suitable for study or degrading to mental and physical health. Without time to grieve, this nation continues in its aim to increase its response rate to the pandemic. But even when our reality is grim, we should stay aware that the world is hurting. The areas of the world that made your favorite H&M shirt now have empty factories, and more importantly, those workers will starve without international aid. That is while we, as Americans, still have hope that on the 4th of July this year, we will be reminded that our democracy is strong. Whereas on the other side of the globe, many are told to trust the same forces that cracked down on their freedoms. It is more important than ever to recognize the struggles of those in the Global South, because as we learned, disease has no borders.
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Thumbnail photo by Juan Karita/AP
Fizza Alam is a contributor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.