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Sport The pandemic propels humanitarian needs to record levels

11:10  01 december  2020
11:10  01 december  2020 Source:   lepoint.fr

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Needs for humanitarian assistance have surged to unprecedented levels this year because of COVID-19, the UN humanitarian office said on Tuesday. The UN has projected that a staggering 235 million people will require help in 2021, resulting from the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic

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The UN on Tuesday launched a record humanitarian appeal of 35 billion dollars (29 billion euros) for 2021, the pandemic having plunged hundreds of millions of people in poverty and looming famines.

With the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of people in need of humanitarian aid worldwide will reach a new record: 235 million, a 40% increase in one year, according to coordinated humanitarian response plans by the UN.

So if all these people lived in one country, it would be the fifth most populous in the world.

The funds requested by the UN and its partners aim to help some 160 million people (out of 235 million) in 56 countries among the most vulnerable who face hunger, conflict, displacement and the consequences of climate change and the pandemic.

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The earliest recorded pandemic happened during the Peloponnesian War. It weakened the population so they were unable to resist Spanish colonizers and left farmers unable to produce needed crops.

This year, "the increase is almost entirely due to Covid-19", which has killed at least 1.46 million people in nearly a year, said UN Humanitarian Affairs Officer Mark Lowcock, at a press conference.

"The picture we present is the bleakest we have ever presented in terms of future humanitarian needs," he added.

"Red lights"

The pandemic has changed the lives of everyone, in every corner of the planet, observes the UN, noting that "those who already lived on the edge of the razor have been severely and disproportionately affected by the increase food prices, falling incomes, interrupting immunization programs and closing schools ”.

For the first time since the late 1990s, extreme poverty has increased. Life expectancy is falling worldwide and the annual number of deaths from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria could double.

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“We need money and access – not one or the other, both.” Also crucial is ensuring that supply chains stay open in the face of lockdowns and the difficulty of getting workers into the fields to “We are in this together. We can stop this becoming a widespread famine. But we need to act quickly and smartly.”

In addition, "multiple famines are on the horizon," warns the UN. "The lights are red and the alarms are ringing," warned Mark Lowcok.

By the end of 2020, 270 million people could be acutely food insecure, 82% more than before the pandemic.

The population in Yemen , Burkina Faso , South Sudan and northeastern Nigeria is on the brink of famine, while other countries and regions, such as Afghanistan and the Sahel, are also "potentially very vulnerable," Lowcok said.

"If we can go through the year 2021 without major famine, it will be a major achievement," he said.

"Very Dark Times"

The UN appeal shows war-torn Syria and Yemen topping the list of countries most in need of humanitarian aid.

UN calls for nearly six billion dollars to help millions of Syrians at home and around the world and nearly 3.5 billion dollars to support around 20 million people in Yemen, in the grip of the most serious crisis humanitarian aid on the planet.

"The humanitarian system has proven its worth again in 2020, providing food, medicine, shelter, education and other essentials to tens of millions of people," said United Nations Secretary General António Guterres.

"But the crisis is far from over. Humanitarian aid budgets face serious shortages as the impact of the global pandemic continues to worsen. Together we must mobilize resources and show ourselves in solidarity with people who are going through very dark times, ”he added.

This year, international donors have provided record funding of more than $ 17 billion for the collective humanitarian response, out of the $ 29 billion requested last December.

01/12/2020 09:04:49 - Geneva (AFP) - © 2020 AFP

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