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Humanitarian aid: More to be in need, UN warns

Humanitarian aid: More to be in need, UN warns. Caption: The United Nations headquarters in New York. Image credit: Diego Grandi / 123rf
The United Nations headquarters in New York. Image credit: Diego Grandi / 123rf

The need for humanitarian aid is to increase in 2021, the United Nations (UN) predicts.

The Global Humanitarian Overview, released earlier this week, projects more than 235 million people worldwide to be in need of humanitarian assistance in 2021. This marks a forty percent increase compared to 2020. The figure equates to one in every 33 people.

At a cost of US$35 billion, “UN-coordinated response plans…aim to reach 160 million of those most in need of life-saving support.” The launch took place on Tuesday, December 1st. 

“The humanitarian system again proved its worth in 2020, delivering food, medicines, shelter, education and other essentials to tens of millions of people,” commented UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “But the crisis is far from over. Humanitarian aid budgets face dire shortfalls as the impact of the global pandemic continues to worsen. Together, we must mobilise resources and stand in solidarity with people in their darkest hour of need.”

Secretary-General Guterres added “the lives of people … already living on a knife’s edge are being hit disproportionately hard by rising food prices, falling incomes, interrupted vaccination programs and school closures”, pointing to the manifold impacts upon the most vulnerable populations.

UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock commented that “the rich world can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. The same is not true in the poorest countries. The COVID-19 crisis has plunged millions of people into poverty and sent humanitarian needs skyrocketing. Next year we will need $35 billion to stave off famine, fight poverty, and keep children vaccinated and in school. 

“A clear choice confronts us. We can 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.” 

A UN press release added “international donors gave a record $17 billion in 2020 for collective humanitarian response. Data shows that seventy percent 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 $35 billion.”

The Global Humanitarian Overview 2021 and media resources are available here. A video package is available here.

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