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  02 Dec 2021, 12:27

UN says aid needs will surge in 2022 amid pandemic, conflict

   GENEVA, Dec 2, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - The UN warned Thursday that the need for
humanitarian aid was skyrocketing worldwide, as the pandemic continues to
rage, and climate change and conflicts push more people to the brink of
famine.

   The United Nations' humanitarian agency OCHA estimated that 274 million
people worldwide would need some form of emergency assistance next year, up
17 percent on an already record-breaking 2021.

   That means one in 29 people will need help in 2022, marking a 250-percent-
increase since 2015 when one in 95 needed assistance, OCHA found in its
Global Humanitarian Overview report.

   The number of people in need "has never been as high as this", UN aid
chief Martin Griffiths told reporters.

   Providing aid to so many "is not sustainable, but it has to be sustained,"
he said.

   The annual appeal by UN agencies and other humanitarian organisations said
that providing aid to the 183 million most vulnerable people across 63
countries next year would require $41 billion -- up from the $35 billion
requested for 2021 and double what was requested just four years ago.

   The report presented a depressing picture of soaring needs brought on by
conflicts and worsening instability in places like Afghanistan, Ethiopia and
Myanmar.

   - Famine 'terrifying possibility' -

   Natural disasters and climate change also drove up displacement and
humanitarian needs, as did the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, it found.

   It pointed out that the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic -- which has
officially killed more than five million people globally and likely many
times that -- along with measures aimed at reining in the virus, had pushed
some 20 million more people into extreme poverty.

   It has also devastated health systems worldwide, with testing for HIV,
tuberculosis and malaria for instance plunging 43 percent, and 23 million
children worldwide missing basic childhood vaccines in 2021.

   At the same time, climate-related disasters are becoming more frequent,
the report said, warning that by 2050 as many as 216 million people could be
forced to move within their own countries due to the effects of global
warming.

   Climate change is contributing to rising hunger and food insecurity, with
famine-like conditions remaining a "real and terrifying possibility for 45
million people in 43 countries around the world", it warned.

   "Without sustained and immediate action, 2022 could be catastrophic," it
cautioned, pointing out that as many as 811 million people worldwide are
already undernourished.

   Conflicts are also taking a devastating toll across a range of countries.

   Need had especially surged in Afghanistan, in the grip of multiple crises
that have been exacerbated since the Taliban swept back into power in August
and international aid dried up.

   Thursday's appeal warned that more than 24 million people -- 65 percent of
the Afghan population -- needed aid, including around nine million people
expected to be on the brink of famine.

   It requested $4.5 billion to help the 22 million most vulnerable people in
Afghanistan in 2022 -- tripling its ask from a year ago.

   - Ethiopia 'most alarming' -

   Billions of dollars were also requested to help the many millions of
people impacted by the drawn-out conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

   And the appeal highlighted swelling needs in Ethiopia, where thousands
have died and millions have been displaced since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed
sent troops into the northern Tigray region more than a year ago.

   It estimated that 26 million people there need humanitarian aid, including
400,000 people on the brink of famine.

   Griffiths said the situation in Ethiopia was perhaps the world's "most
alarming".

   But he stressed there were many other dire situations, with violence and
unrest continuing to force millions to flee their home.

   According to UN numbers, more than one percent of the global population is
currently displaced.

   Despite the devastating picture painted in the report, Griffiths stressed
that humanitarian aid often manages to contain the worst consequences of
crises.

   Last year, the humanitarian organisation provided aid to around 107
million people -- 70 percent of those they had wanted to reach -- including
helping bring half a million people in South Sudan back from the brink of
famine.

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