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How Do You Regularly Wash Your Hands When There Is No Clean Water?

A young girl stands near the laundry she hung to dry in Moria on Lesbos on January 4, 2020. Approximately one-third of the over 20,000 people in Moria are children, and an estimated 1,500 of them are unaccompanied minors. Image by Maranie Staab. Greece, 2020.

A young girl stands near the laundry she hung to dry in Moria on Lesbos on January 4, 2020. Approximately one-third of the over 20,000 people in Moria are children, and an estimated 1,500 of them are unaccompanied minors. Image by Maranie Staab. Greece, 2020.

Asal, Ezin, and Damsa gather firewood in Moria on Lesbos, on January 4, 2020. Without electricity or proper shelter, the family relies on heat from open fire for temporary warmth. Image by Maranie Staab. Greece, 2020.

Asal, Ezin, and Damsa gather firewood in Moria on Lesbos, on January 4, 2020. Without electricity or proper shelter, the family relies on heat from open fire for temporary warmth. Image by Maranie Staab. Greece, 2020.

Dumpsters overflowing with garbage and unkempt porta-potties line the walkways of Moria in Lesbos. Image by Maranie Staab. Greece, 2020.

Dumpsters overflowing with garbage and unkempt porta-potties line the walkways of Moria in Lesbos. Image by Maranie Staab. Greece, 2020.

Provided only a tent and a blanket upon arrival, refugees in Moria have become resourceful. They draped their tents in tarps and plastic in an effort to keep out the cold in the camp on Lesbos, shown on January 6, 2020. Image by Maranie Staab. Greece, 2020.

Provided only a tent and a blanket upon arrival, refugees in Moria have become resourceful. They draped their tents in tarps and plastic in an effort to keep out the cold in the camp on Lesbos, shown on January 6, 2020. Image by Maranie Staab. Greece, 2020.

As the coronavirus continues to spread, we are all being urged to routinely wash our hands, disinfect surfaces, and practice "social distancing.” Of all things, toilet paper has inexplicably become coveted and a mix of uncertainty and fear has driven people to stockpile food, water, and medicine. 

Unlike other crises, the coronavirus is exceptional in part for its global impact. But the degree to which one is affected and how equipped one is to mitigate risk or endure quarantine is often determined by factors beyond control. Among the most vulnerable are the millions of people displaced worldwide; for those in Moria the precautions we exercise today and the comfort in which we wait are not an option.

Maranie Staab, 2020 Reporting Fellow from Syracuse University, writes about life in Moria, Europe's largest refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, for VICE, in a piece titled "Raw Sewage, Mountains of Garbage, and the Coronavirus: the Devastating Conditions Inside Europe’s Largest Migrant Camp." Staab says, "It is "a place where individuals are stripped of autonomy, stuck in bureaucratic limbo and now forced to remain in overcrowded conditions as coronavirus threatens to spread among the near 21,000 residents."

As one refugee—a mother who landed on Lesbos in a large inflatable raft last October—tells her, "'If I stayed in Afghanistan, I knew I would die, but here I die a little every day.'"