GLASGOW rockers Deacon Blue have spoken about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on poor communities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The band’s Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh recently travelled to the African country with SCIAF where they met women and girls who have been brutalised by the ongoing conflict and sexual violence.

The singers both say they are concerned about the impact of the coronavirus on these fragile communities and urge Scots not to forget their plight by donating to SCIAF’s WEE BOX appeal.

They met with mum-of-four Angela, 29, whom SCIAF is helping with medical treatment and support to earn a living.

One night, she was brutally raped by armed rebels, who went on to kill her husband. She contracted HIV as a result of the rape.

In a joint statement, the pair said: “We recently met women and girls who have suffered dreadfully from years of war and widespread sexual violence in DR Congo, which has been fuelled by the trade in conflict minerals.

“We saw how money from Scotland for the WEE BOX appeal is helping them to recover, earn a living and build a future again.

“However, having seen first-hand the conditions in which these extremely poor communities live, we are very concerned about how the coronavirus will affect them.”

The statement added: “With no clean running water, how will they protect themselves and their families? How will they make ends meet under a lockdown if they can’t farm or sell their produce? With no state help or savings, how will they keep up with the rising food costs?

“Many people like the women and girls SCIAF is helping are living with HIV and AIDS as a result of rape. How will they be able to get their medicine or treatment?

“One thing is clear. After everything they have been through, due to the coronavirus, life for these women, girls and their families will become even harder.

“Normally, people in Scotland would be raising money for the WEE BOX appeal in schools, parishes and across Scotland. This hasn’t been possible due to the pandemic, and now SCIAF may not raise the money it needs.

“During these difficult times, we know there is a lot of pressure on families in Scotland and communities are coming together to look after one another. Please also remember the desperately poor communities around the world who were already struggling. We can’t leave them to face this crisis alone and they need our help more than ever.”

The singers added: “SCIAF is working with some of the world’s most vulnerable people to provide clean water, soap, medical treatment and essential food supplies. If you can, please support this vital work by donating to the WEE BOX appeal.

“In solidarity with the many amazing people we had the privilege to meet, we would like to thank you for every bit of your help.”