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    COVID-19 to increase humanitarian needs by 40 percent, UN reports

    The United Nations Global Humanitarian Overview 2021 indicated that the Coronavirus pandemic will push the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance to new heights. 

    According to the overview, COVID-19 will increase humanitarian needs by 40 percent in 2021 and one in 33 people – a significant increase from 1 in 45 at the launch of the Global Humanitarian Overview 2020 – will need aid to meet basic needs like food, water and sanitation.

    The Overview states that the pandemic will increase the ranks of extreme poverty in one year. Accordingly, goes on the report, about 235 million people worldwide, with concentrations in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia need assistance. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said it projects the figure to reach 160 million.

    The Humanitarian Overview states that COVID-19 has triggered the deepest global recession since the 1930s. “Extreme poverty has risen for the first time in 22 years, and unemployment has increased dramatically. Women and young people aged 15–29 working in the informal sector, are being hit the hardest. Furthermore, school closures have affected 91 percent of students worldwide,” the report indicated.

    The UN said that more than 5 million children under five years of age face the threats of cholera and acute watery diarrhea. “The pandemic could wipe out 20 years of progress in HIV, TB and malaria, potentially doubling annual death tolls,” warned the Overview.

    The report further notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has made life harder for the already vulnerable groups. Almost 24 million children, adolescents and young people are at risk of not returning to school in 2020, added the report, including 11 million girls and young women. It also stated that the full extent of gender inequality and women’s and girls’ exposure to gender-based violence has been laid bare by the pandemic.

    The report underscored adolescent girls in conflict zones are 90 percent more likely to be out of school and 70 percent of women in humanitarian settings are more likely to experience gender-based violence. “Globally, quarantine measures are exacerbating domestic violence, with 15 million new cases predicted for every three months of lockdown,” the report added.

    Nevertheless, went on the report, collaboration between humanitarian, development and peace building efforts has increased during the pandemic. The report advised that building on this cooperation will help meet the needs of the 160 million people targeted for humanitarian assistance in 2021.

    The UN and partner organizations aim to assist 160 million people in need across 56 countries.

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