The coronavirus pandemic has created a record need for global humanitarian aid, the United Nations said on Tuesday, forecasting that 235 million people will require aid in 2021, an increase of 40 percent over the same period last year.
The proportion of people needing aid rose to one in 33 people worldwide from one in 45 last year. Fighting off famine, poverty and disease, while keeping children vaccinated and in school, will require $35.1 billion in funding, or more than double the record $17 billion raised in 2020, the United Nations said.
Even as much of the world looks with hope to promising coronavirus vaccines, which could begin to be rolled out as early as next month, the lingering impact of the pandemic — including rising food prices, falling incomes and halted education — will disproportionately hit more vulnerable people, said Mark Lowcock, organization’s humanitarian and emergency relief efforts.
Extreme poverty will increase for the first time since the ’90s, life expectancy will fall, deaths from diseases like malaria and tuberculosis will double, twice as many people will face starvation, and many children will be unable to go back to school, he said.
“The rich world can now see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Mr. Lowcock said. “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.”
The United Nations presented its forecast in Geneva on Tuesday as it introduced its Global Humanitarian Overview, an annual assessment of projected needs. At the same event last December, before the coronavirus outbreak had grown to a global pandemic, the United Nations predicted 168 million people would need aid in 2020, requiring $28.8 billion in funding.
Its plan for 2021 would target aid to 160 million people in 56 countries, with the largest populations in Yemen, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Sudan, Syria and Nigeria.