International volunteering has played a key role in working to address social injustice and building resilience in the face of multiple local and global challenges. We are now facing an unprecedented global challenge which requires true solidarity to make decisions in the best interests of all, but particularly for those who are most vulnerable.
Many organisations, guided by Comhlámh’s Code of Good Practice for Volunteer Sending Agencies, key humanitarian and development principles and their duty of care both to their volunteers and to their partners in the Global South, are cancelling or postponing international volunteer placements pending for 2020. These actions are being made on the basis of social responsibility and ethical considerations and to avoid all unnecessary travel as called for by our government, and in line with the World Health Organisation’s recommendations on international travel.
Comhlámh commends volunteer sending agencies for making these very difficult decisions to cancel or postpone placements for 2020. We believe taking decisive action at this juncture will enable more focused consideration on the needs of local partners in the Global South. Covid-19 will affect all, but not all equally. The spread of the virus will be devastating in countries whose health systems are already significantly under-resourced and where access to clean water and sanitation facilities are limited. We need to act quickly to direct international resources, including fundraised monies, to these countries in order to support global partners in their work to protect those most at risk.
Volunteers can help these efforts by linking in with their chosen volunteer sending agency to identify ways to support local partners remotely and/or to engage in alternative social justice activism and learning opportunities. The UN Volunteers online platform has a range of very practical ways for people to help https://www.onlinevolunteering.org/.
We wish you all well and safe.