Covid has pushed millions into poverty and hunger, says UN

A record $35 billion is needed to fund relief efforts in Yemen, Syria and beyond next year, UN Secretary-General says

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 6, 2020 children collect grain spilt on the field from gunny bags that ruptured upon ground impact following a food drop from a plane at a village in Ayod county, South Sudan, where World Food Programme (WFP) have just carried out a food drop of grain and supplementary aid. The UN appealed on December 1, 2020  for a record $35 billion to provide aid in 2021, as the pandemic left tens of millions more people in crisis, and with the risk of multiple famines looming. The world body's annual Global Humanitarian Overview estimated that 235 million people worldwide will need some form of emergency assistance next year -- a staggering 40-percent increase in the past year.
 / AFP / TONY KARUMBA

The number of people needing aid has grown by 40 per cent globally because of the coronavirus pandemic, with hotspots in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan and other turbulent countries, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

The world body's annual Global Humanitarian Overview estimated that 235 million people worldwide will need some form of emergency relief next year and called for a record $35 billion of funding to pay for it.

“Humanitarian aid budgets face dire shortfalls as the impact of the global pandemic continues to worsen,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at a virtual event to present the report in Geneva.

The world body says it needs $35 billion to provide “life-saving support” to 160 million people around the world who have been ravaged by the impacts of the pandemic, climate change, conflict and famine.

The UN document offers plans to tackle crises in 56 countries, including Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan, which have been affected by years of war, as well as other troubled areas across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The coronavirus pandemic has killed about 1.5 million people globally and infected 63 million. It has wiped out hundreds of millions of jobs, plunged millions into extreme poverty and pushed the world economy into recession.

“The rich world can now see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock.

“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.”

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