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Humanitarian response plan needed as Covid-19 wreaks havoc

The shock of Covid-19 has pushed the number of people who need humanitarian assistance worldwide to a record high up by 40 per cent compared to the same time last year.
If all those who will need humanitarian aid next year lived in one country, it would be the world’s fifth largest nation, with a population of 235 million.
The United Nation (UN) and its partners are working towards helping 160 million of the most vulnerable people who face hunger, conflict, displacement, and the impacts of climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a press release today, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), local and global humanitarian organisations stand ready to save lives and livelihoods and respond to the special needs of women and children as well as people with disabilities and mental health needs.
As they launch the Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO) 2021 today in Geneva, they have set out 34 response plans covering 56 vulnerable countries.
“The humanitarian system again proved its worth in 2020, delivering food, medicines, shelter, education and other essentials to tens of millions of people,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
He however added that the crisis is far from over as Humanitarian aid budgets face dire shortfalls as the impact of the global pandemic continues to worsen. “Together, we must mobilize resources and stand in solidarity with people in their darkest hour of need, ” Guterres said
The lives of people in every nation have been upended by the impact of the pandemic with those already living on a knife’s edge being hit disproportionately hard by rising food prices, falling incomes, interrupted vaccination programmes and school closures and extreme poverty rising for the first time in 22 years.
UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said the Covid-19 crisis has plunged millions of people into poverty and sent humanitarian needs skyrocketing.
“The rich world can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. The same is not true in the poorest countries. Next year we will need USD 35 billion to stave off famine, fight poverty, and keep children vaccinated and in school”, he added.
He noted that a clear choice however confronts all and we can either let 2021 be the year of the grand reversal, the unravelling of 40 years of progress, or we can work together to make sure we all find a way out of this pandemic.
In 2020 the International donors gave a record USD 17 billion for collective humanitarian response.
Data shows that 70 per cent of the people targeted for aid were reached, an increase compared to 2019. But as needs are rising, funding remains less than half of what the UN and partner organizations asked for.
Next year, the estimated cost of response is USD35 billion and the UN-coordinated response plans presented today aim to reach 160 million of those most in need of life-saving support.

By Wangari Ndirangu

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