The corona pandemic is ruining many successes in the fight against poverty. The number of those in need is increasing by tens of millions worldwide, but the United Nations has no money.
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More and more disasters and conflicts and now also the coronavirus – this is causing more people to suffer than ever before. There is even a threat of new famines, warned the UN emergency aid coordinator Mark Lowcock in Geneva when the first plans for the next year were presented. It was thought that such catastrophes were finally a thing of the past.
The United Nations estimates that 235 million people will need assistance – an increase of 40 percent in one year. A year ago the UN assumed 168 million people in need, the previous year from 146 million. The UN programs for the supply of food, places of refuge and medical aid planned for 2021 cost a total of 29 billion euros.
“Land of the needy” would be the fifth largest on earth
The UN Emergency Aid Office (OCHA) illustrates the extent of the need with a comparison: If all those in need lived in a single country, this would be the fifth largest country in the world in terms of population. It would have almost three times as many inhabitants as Germany.
“Conflict, climate change and Covid-19 are creating the greatest humanitarian challenge since World War II,” said UN Secretary General António Guterres. He asked for more donations. The world community must work more to combat the causes of conflicts and disasters. Climate change means more fires, floods and more violent storms. It also fuels conflicts when people have to fight over resources.
“Call for a global armistice”
“I appeal to all parties to the conflict and those who influence them to support my call for a global ceasefire by the end of this year,” said Guterres. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) warned: “These numbers mean a new and depressing record of worldwide hardship. He pleaded for more prevention.” Our goal should be to intervene before a crisis even breaks out. That is why Germany invested 30 million euros in preventive humanitarian aid in 2020. “
The United Nations wants to help 160 million people in 56 countries next year. Aid organizations like the Red Cross would have to take care of the others. This year, the UN need for several supplements, also because of the corona pandemic, was almost 33 billion euros. Only around half of that came together.
Deepest global recession since the 1930s
“The results of decades of development have been overturned by the coronavirus,” said the UN. For the first time since the 1990s, the number of people who are extremely poor will increase. Life expectancy will fall in many countries.
Not only the virus itself, but above all the consequences have hit the countries: Closure of business life, deepest global recession since the 1930s, higher food prices, reduced income, decline in remittances from relatives abroad, interrupted vaccination programs for diseases such as measles and School closings.
Aid organizations pointed out that it is becoming more difficult to reach those in need. Conflicts and bureaucratic hurdles made the distribution of relief supplies increasingly difficult, reported Oxfam and other organizations. In Yemen alone, the number of people in need in hard-to-reach regions rose from five to 19 million. The UN appealed to states to stop arms sales to warring factions if it can be assumed that they violate international law.