GENEVA – New research by the Norwegian Refugee Council has shown that the economic impact of COVID-19 is driving refugees and displaced persons in conflict situations into a hunger, homeless and educational crisis. The Downward Spiral report interviewed 1,400 people in 14 countries in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Afghanistan in Central Asia.
These countries (Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Uganda, Venezuela, Somalia, DR Congo, Lebanon, Jordan, Burkina Faso and Yemen) have been plagued by war, violence, climate change, natural disasters and other disasters for years. Now they are facing the COVID-19 pandemic, which is creating numerous new problems related to lockdowns and other restrictions to contain the virus.
The Norwegian Refugee Council reports that 77 percent of respondents have lost their job or income since March, 70 percent have cut out one or more meals a day and are starving, and 73 percent say they are unlikely to send their children back to school because of the economic hardship.
NRC General Secretary Jan Egeland warns that the world’s most vulnerable communities are in a dangerous downward spiral. He says the economic effects of the pandemic are driving them into disaster.
“For hundreds of millions and the north, it is now a question of survival. The big economies are not even able to understand the crisis in the south and in the countries we work in,” he said.
According to Egeland, the richer countries contribute less money when developing countries need their support most. Currently, he notes that only 25 percent of the United Nations humanitarian appeals for 2020 have been funded.
He says that the cries of poverty from the industrialized countries are not credible. To emphasize this point, he cites a UN report that the Organization for Economic Co-operation and the G-20 countries have put in place stimulus packages worth $ 11 trillion – roughly 10 percent of global gross domestic product. He says there is money.
“It’s just not going to the Sahel, where the biggest problem is in the most conflict-affected countries and in the most disaster-hit countries. This will of course lead to instability in some parts of the world that will return to haunt the rugged world. ”
Egeland says it is in the self-interest of the major economies to help the impoverished world weather this pandemic. He warns that without urgent action, this crisis will spiral out of control.