Earlier this week, the Duke of Cambridge learned about the positive impact that donations from the U.K. have had in Syria

By Maria Pasquini
March 20, 2021 06:00 PM
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Prince William on call
Prince William
| Credit: Kensington Palace

Prince William is listening and learning.

Earlier this week, the Duke of Cambridge spoke with a group of Syrian humanitarian aid workers, whose work is supported by the U.K.'s Disasters Emergency Committee Coronavirus Appeal.

During the call, William, 38, learned about the positive impact donations from the U.K. have had in Syria, helping to bring life-saving assistance and protection to the country.  

Bringing together over a dozen U.K.-based charities, the DEC has helped raise over £1.5 billion at times of crises for countries in need. Launched last July, the DEC's Coronavirus Appeal has helped refugees and others who have been displaced by the pandemic in Yemen, Syria, Somalia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Afghanistan. 

To date, the appeal has raised over £38 million, £10 million of which was matched by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office through UK Aid Match.

Prince William on call
Prince William
| Credit: Kensington Palace

During the call, William was joined by three aid workers based out of northwest Syria, where millions have been displaced amid the pandemic.  

Fadi Hallisso, Kawther Mohamad Ali, and Shahinaz Muamar spoke about how many local families have to go to great lengths to prevent the spread of the virus, as many shelters do not have running water.

Kawther, who works as an anaesthetist in one of the few local COVID-19 wards, also explained how the DEC funds are being used to help cover hospital costs, PPE and medical training.  The funds are also being used to support public health initiatives, and to make sure people in need can get clean water and hygiene kits.

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This week, William and his wife Kate Middleton also headed to an ambulance station in east London to speak to crews and paramedics about the intense challenges of working during the pandemic.

The royal couple joined paramedic Jahrin Khan in the Station's Wellbeing Garden as she told them how she has coped with the pressures of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the impact of having to isolate from family.

RELATED VIDEO: Kate Middleton and Prince William Step Out amid Ongoing Controversy Over Meghan and Harry's Interview

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, William and Kate have been supporting frontline health workers. 

The London Ambulance Service has received $140,000 of funding from NHS Charities Together, of which Their Royal Highnesses are joint patrons. Their Royal Foundation has helped set up Our Frontline, a one-to-one mental health resource that offers staffers access help and advice as they tackle difficult and often-harrowing cases.

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The couple's visit on Thursday came as controversy has continued about the interview Meghan Markle and Prince Harry gave to Oprah Winfrey on March 7. 

As the royals and their staffs digested the various claims and counter-claims in the wake of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's sit-down, there was "anger," a palace source tells PEOPLE in this week's cover story. "There were genuinely mixed emotions and deep sorrow and shock there too."

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.