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The effects of COVD-19 across Asia

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It is obvious COVID-19 has rendered the vulnerable much more vulnerable.

There are many issues identified as a consequence of this crisis.

On 30 April and 7 May the Christian Conference of Asia hosted webinars on these topics. Bishop Philip Huggins, the President of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) participated in both and these summaries are drawn from his notes.

The Plight of Migrant Workers During the COVID-19 Crisis - 30 April 2020 

1. Migrants stranded within their own country (Internal) 

2. Migrants stranded in another country (External)

3. Issues shared in common by internal and external migrant workers 

4. The Role of Churches 

5. In Australia

Whilst the State and Territory Governments have stepped up to provide assistance to people on temporary visas within our communities, asylum seekers and people on bridging visas awaiting determination of their refugee status in Australia are amongst some of the most vulnerable as they lack access to Medicare and Centrelink and no dedicated COVID-19 support. They were among the first to lose casual employment in March and any savings have been spent on accommodation and food in the past month. 

Read the full summary The Plight of Migrant Workers During the COVID-19 Crisis - 1 May 2020  by Bishop Philip Huggins explaining each of the points above  


How Churches in Asia are responding to the COVID-19 - Crisis 7 May 2020 

Illuminating the crucial role of CCA, this Webinar allowed us to listen to the current experience of Christian leaders from Iran, through Pakistan, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Hong Kong to Japan

Whilst the contexts are very different, there are some common themes.

1. Shared suffering has led to some closer collaboration;

  • the sharing of resources;
  • an obvious awareness of our common humanity;
  • the rekindled hope that we might build a “civilisation of love”. 

2. Nonetheless, the suffering is immense; the impact is most severe on the poor and those already most vulnerable. 

  • We see the lack of developed health systems in many places.
  • While it is best to follow Health Guidelines, people have no access to face-masks, sanitisers and have had no training in basic hygiene, are told to “stay home” but have no home!
  • Official figures for the number of cases and deaths probably understate the reality, given limited reliable testing taking place.
  • Many are on the move in search of food and shelter, people walking hundreds of kilometres, trying to survive.
  • In places where ignorance and prejudice are ingrained, minorities suffer further. 
  • The loss of work means there is no income and no ability to purchase basic needs.


  • A first response of Churches has been to provide food relief where possible.
  • The level of need has exposed the difference between Churches with funds set aside for such an emergency and others which are ill- equipped and unprepared.
  • Giving hope, in Easter faith, has to be practical. 
  • Churches try and better co-ordinate emergency assistance. 
  • These challenges will continue. Our role will be to keep giving hope in practical ways, co-operating with all people of good will in new and evolving partnerships.
  • As people ask ‘what will happen to us’ our answer must give prayerful and practical hope.
  • Leaders were united in saying that this crisis will change the way the Church serves people.  

In this context we see the profound relevance of the chosen theme for Asian Church Sunday, May 24:” God Heal Us, as we are Vulnerable”.

United in prayer, the Holy Spirit can guide us into further co- operative work and service together.  

I am profoundly grateful to the leadership of CCA for giving us these Webinars at this time. I hope these brief notes help others, as we all seek to respond as best we can, in Easter faith and hope.

Bishop Philip Huggins, NCCA President

Read the full summary How Churches in Asia are responding to the COVID-19 - Crisis 7 May 2020 by Bishop Huggins explaining each of the points above.


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