KASSEL: A view of a vaccination centre built by Germany’s Federal Agency for Technical Relief.—Reuters
KASSEL: A view of a vaccination centre built by Germany’s Federal Agency for Technical Relief.—Reuters

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations launched a $35-billion global appeal on Tuesday to help more than 235 million vulnerable people in 2021, including 10.5 million in Pakistan.

The world body is also seeking $285.3 million for Pakistan, where it is targeting about 3.3 million as the “most vulnerable and fragile.”

The UN appeal explained that across the globe, a record 235 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection next year, a near 40 per cent increase on 2020. The UN and partner organisations have listed 160 million people across 56 countries as the most vulnerable.

The UN emergency relief chief Mark Lowcock said the 40 percent increase was “almost entirely from Covid-19”, which has had a particularly devastating impact on developing economies.

The pandemic has forced one in 33 people to seek emergency relief — a significant increase from 1 in 45 at the launch of the Global Humanitarian Overview 2020, which was already the highest figure in decades.

According to the UN appeal, the global economic fallout will continue to have a large-scale socioeconomic impact” on Pakistan throughout 2021, “especially on people already living below the poverty line.”

The economic stress will likely result in growing unemployment, inflation and poverty, the report added while stressing the need to support emergency relief, prevention and mitigation measures in Pakistan.

The report pointed out that because of the pandemic, poverty in Pakistan is estimated to rise from 24.3 per cent to 40 per cent in 2021, and the economic impact of the pandemic will be most acute on vulnerable groups and the refugee population.

The report noted that Pakistan has encountered a series of unexpected shocks during 2020 that pushed the most vulnerable people into compounded crises with little opportunity for recovery and affecting nearly every part of the country.

Drought-like conditions in 2019 were followed by a winter emergency across much of the western parts of the country. The Covid-19 pandemic and related economic shock, coupled with public health measures, dealt a severe blow to livelihoods and the economy, disrupted education, and caused increased food insecurity.

The report noted that in September, the government in Pakistan declared a national emergency due to major monsoon-triggered floods in Sindh. The floods affected 2.4 million people and left thousands of people displaced, living on streets surrounded by water, and without access to clean water or sanitation.

The UN appeal explained that globally, the pandemic has had a dramatic impact on people already reeling from conflict, record levels of displacement, climate change shocks.

“Multiple” famines are looming,” the UN emergency chief said, adding that the situation was “desperate” for millions and has left the UN and partners overwhelmed.

“The picture we are presenting is the bleakest and darkest perspective on humanitarian needs in the period ahead that we have ever set out,” Mr Lowcock 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.”

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2020

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