It's said that crises expose and exacerbate existing structural weaknesses.
The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing and exacerbating one of our greatest weaknesses - the treatment of refugees and people seeking asylum around the world.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates there are now more than 70 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, including almost 30 million refugees and more than 40 million who have fled to other parts of their own country. Last year more people were forcibly internally displaced than ever before.
The vast majority of these vulnerable human beings are in low and middle-income countries, not Australia or Europe.
The refugee camps and makeshift settlements where many now survive are poorly equipped to meet their basic needs, even before the outbreak of COVID-19.
How can you practice social distancing in a cramped refugee camp?
Refugee camps like Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh, which has been described as representing a "perfect storm" for the transmission of COVID-19. Home to more than 850,000 Rohingya refugees, the camps house about 40,000 people per square kilometre. To put this in perspective, Melbourne has around 430 people per square kilometre.
The Cox's Bazar camp recently recorded its first two cases of coronavirus.
The risk of the virus rapidly spreading through such a dense population of vulnerable people is acute, and the consequences terrifying.
As governments around the world require their citizens to stay at home, the world's most vulnerable - those who can't go home - are more exposed to coronavirus.
Without soap, running water or the space to socially distance, what hope do the world's most vulnerable people have of avoiding the virus?
There is some optimism that much of the global refugee population around the world is to a large extent made of younger people, and therefore less susceptible to the virus. However, demography doesn't make up for the chronic health issues most refugees experience.
Compounding the threat of coronavirus to the lives of refugees and people seeking asylum is the significant restrictions to the global movement brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
Recently, a boat carrying nearly 400 starving Rohingya arrived on the coast of Bangladesh, after drifting for weeks in the sea between Thailand and Malaysia. Dozens of people reportedly died.
Around the world borders are shut, and the UNCHR has, temporarily, suspended resettlement.
People fleeing persecution now have fewer options than ever before.
What does this mean for Australia's humanitarian contribution? Clearly, this year we will not be welcoming refugees to Australia as we normally would.
But there are still ways that Australia can play our part.
First, Australia must restate our commitment to support and work closely with the UNHCR. The world now faces a fundamental choice, between co-operation and isolation. We must take the first path and reject those voices that look to fear, promoting nativist populism. Australia has a proud record of constructive international engagement, and this has to continue.
We have to push back against those forces who seek to make our world smaller. International problems will continue to require international solutions, and we have to build the capacity of countries to work together. This includes ensuring that the rights and protections of refugees and people seeking asylum are upheld.
Second, we must seek to find innovative ways of supporting those people that would otherwise have been resettled in Australia, if not for the coronavirus.
This might mean partnering with the UNHCR and partner countries to identify refugees suitable for resettlement to Australia when it is safe to do so, but in the meantime working towards seeing that they have access to medical care, rights to education and to work.
Third, we should do more to support and empower refugees themselves. The work of refugee-led movements has been inspirational, but it has not been adequately supported. This must change.
As governments around the world require their citizens to stay at home, the world's most vulnerable - those who can't go home - are more exposed to coronavirus, and the other adverse consequences that the virus brings with it, in terms of discrimination, exclusion and fearfulness.
Australia is doing a good job at protecting Australian citizens, but we must also remember the most vulnerable people around the world, and not turn our backs on them.
We have to show our best side to the world, to lead in ensuring that the pandemic doesn't leave behind it more fear and xenophobia.
- Andrew Giles is the opposition spokesman for Cities and Urban Infrastructure, Multicultural Affairs and Assisting for Immigration and Citizenship.