Geneva (dpa) – More and more disasters and conflicts and now also the coronavirus – more people worldwide are suffering as a result than ever before.
New famines are even looming, UN emergency aid coordinator Mark Lowcock warned in Geneva on Tuesday when initial plans for the following year were presented. It was thought that such disasters 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 estimated 168 million people in need, compared to 146 million the year before. The UN programs for food, refuge and medical aid planned for 2021 will cost a total of $ 35 billion (more than € 29 billion).
The United Nations Emergency Relief Office (OCHA) illustrates the magnitude of the need with a comparison: if all those in need lived in one country, it would be the fifth largest country in the world in terms of population. It is said to have nearly three times the population of Germany.
“Conflicts, climate change and Covid-19 represent the greatest humanitarian challenge since World War II,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. He asked for more donations. The global community must work more to combat the causes of conflict and disaster. Climate change means more fires, floods and more violent storms. It also feeds conflict when people have to fight for resources.
“I appeal to all parties to the conflict and those influencing 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 represent a new and depressing record of global hardship. He argued for more prevention. “Our aim must be to act before even a crisis 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 such as the Red Cross should take care of the others. This year, the UN’s need for multiple supplements, partly because of the corona pandemic, was nearly $ 39 billion. Only about half of them came together.
The results of decades of development have been negated by the coronavirus, the UN said. For the first time since the 1990s, the number of people who are extremely poor will increase. Life expectancy will fall in many countries.
Countries were not only affected by the virus itself, but mainly by its consequences: business closures, deepest global recession since the 1930s, higher food prices, falling incomes, a decrease in remittances from family members abroad, interrupted vaccination programs for diseases such as measles and closures from schools.
Aid organizations pointed out that it is becoming increasingly difficult to reach people in need. Conflicts and bureaucratic hurdles made the distribution of relief supplies increasingly difficult, Oxfam and other organizations reported. In Yemen alone, the number of people in need in hard-to-reach regions has risen from five to 19 million. The UN called on states to stop arms sales to warring factions if they can be believed to be in violation of international law.