A global need for humanitarian aid has risen to unprecedented levels this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN humanitarian office said on Tuesday, as the outbreak has exacerbated the risk of many famines threatening many continents, in addition to global conflict challenges, forced migration and the effects of global warming.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated in its latest annual global humanitarian survey that $ 35 billion would be needed for aid in 2021, with 235 million people worldwide needing some form of emergency aid next year, a staggering 40% increase the past year.
“The increase is almost entirely due to COVID-19,” UN aid coordinator Mark Lowcock told reporters, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Next year, one in 33 people worldwide will need help, the report said, stressing that if they all lived in one country, it would be the world’s fifth largest nation. The annual appeal by UN agencies and other humanitarian organizations usually provides a depressing picture of rising needs caused by conflict, displacement, natural disasters and climate change. But now, it warned, the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 1.45 million people worldwide, has disproportionately affected those “already living on the edge of a knife.” “The image we present is the gloomiest and darkest perspective on humanitarian needs in the coming period that we have ever set up,” Lowcock said. The money requested in the appeal would be enough to help 160 million of the most vulnerable people in 56 countries, the UN said.
As blockades and international trade routes disrupt vital aid supplies, the UN has warned that the coronavirus pandemic could have a “generational effect” on the health of millions of people. As the coronavirus outbreak and its limitations are already driving hungry communities over the edge, COVID-19 famine will lead to 10,000 more children dying per month during the first year of the pandemic, according to an urgent UN call in July. swell to as much as 270 million, an increase of 82% compared to the number before COVID-19, warned the UN.
Lowcock said the biggest problem is in Yemen, where there is a risk of “a large-scale famine” now, and that the main reason is a lack of funding from the Gulf states, which have previously been major donors, leading to cuts in aid and the closure of clinics. Famine has never been officially declared in Yemen. UN warnings at the end of 2018 of imminent famine led to increased aid support, after which WFP fed up to 13 million per month.
Lowcock also said that the biggest economic demand is the Syrian crisis and its spread to neighboring countries, where millions of Syrians have fled to escape the more than nine-year conflict.
OCHA said other countries in need include Afghanistan, Congo, Haiti, Nigeria, South Sudan, Ukraine and Venezuela. Newcomers on this year’s list are Mozambique, where extremist activity has increased in the north, Pakistan and Zimbabwe. Lowcock said it was not the pandemic but its economic impact that had the greatest impact on humanitarian needs. “Everyone hit the poorest people in the poorest countries the hardest of all,” he said. “For the poorest, the hangover from the pandemic will be long and hard.”