Advertisement

Coronavirus pandemic has led to 40% increase of people seeking humanitarian aid: UN

Click to play video 'COVID-19 threatens to increase poverty in East Africa, Yemen' COVID-19 threatens to increase poverty in East Africa, Yemen
COVID-19 threatens to increase poverty in East Africa, Yemen – Jun 7, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled a 40% increase in the number of people needing humanitarian assistance around the globe, the United Nations said on Tuesday, as it appealed for roughly $35 billion to help many of those expected to be in need next year.

“If everyone who will need humanitarian aid next year lived in one country, it would be the world’s fifth largest nation,” U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock said.

“The pandemic has wreaked carnage across the most fragile and vulnerable countries,” he added.

Read more: Worst impacts on poverty from coronavirus crisis ‘still to come,’ UN expert says

The United Nations has set out 34 humanitarian response plans covering 56 countries for 2021, aiming to help 160 million of what it forecasts to be 235 million most vulnerable people worldwide facing hunger, conflict and the impacts of climate change and the coronavirus pandemic.

Story continues below advertisement

“We always aim to reach about two-thirds of those in need because others, for example the Red Cross, will try to meet the remaining gap,” Lowcock said.

Click to play video 'UN World Food Programme wins Nobel Peace Prize' UN World Food Programme wins Nobel Peace Prize
UN World Food Programme wins Nobel Peace Prize – Oct 9, 2020

He said this year donors gave a record $17 billion to fund humanitarian operations and data showed that aid reached 70% of the people targeted.

While Lowcock noted the $35 billion needed for 2021 was a lot of money, he said it was a “very small” amount compared to what rich countries have spent protecting their citizens during the pandemic.

Read more: Nearly half a billion people may end up in poverty due to coronavirus crisis: report

Key among the concerns for Lowcock is averting famines in countries including Yemen, Afghanistan, northeast Nigeria, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burkina Faso.

Story continues below advertisement

“There is a clear and present danger of really a large scale famine in Yemen now and the single biggest reason for that is because some very important countries who provided a lot of assistance for our relief operation in 2018 and 2019 have not done that in 2020 and those are the countries of the Gulf,” he said.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Tom Brown)