U.N. says $35B needed for humanitarian crisis made worse by COVID-19

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Dec. 1 (UPI) — The United Nations on Tuesday said it needs $35 billion to meet global humanitarian needs, which includes more people who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mark Lowcock, emergency relief coordinator for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs, said “multiple” famines are looming around the world as a result of the health crisis.

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UNOCHA said a record 235 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2021, an almost 40% increase over 2020. That number is driven “almost entirely from COVID-19,” Lowcock said in a statement.

“The picture we are presenting is the bleakest and darkest perspective on humanitarian needs in the period ahead that we have ever set out,” he said. “That is a reflection of the fact that the COVID pandemic has wreaked carnage across the whole of the most fragile and vulnerable countries on the planet.”

Lowcock said a plan by the Global Humanitarian Overview could reach 160 million of the “most vulnerable people in 56 countries” if they are fully financed by the needed $35 billion.

According to the overview, the countries with the greatest number of people in need are Yemen (24.3 million), Ethiopia (21.3 million), Congo (19.6 million), Afghanistan (18.4 million), Sudan (13.4 million), Syria (13 million) and Pakistan (10.5 million).

Many of those countries face ongoing violence because of war and other violence.

“In fact, things are just as bad now in the biggest humanitarian settings driven by conflict as they were when we spoke to you a year ago,” Lowcock added.

“We’re overwhelmed with problems, as you know, but just the scale of the need and the scale of the crisis is such that these efforts to anticipate things make things a little bit better than they would otherwise have been, but they still leave us with a terrible, desperate situation.”