Wednesday, November 11, 2020

A Warning of an Approaching Catastrophe


Two United Nations agencies on Tuesday highlighted concerns about how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting global hunger and population displacement—warning that both "could surge as people on the move and those reliant on a dwindling flow of remittances desperately seek work to support their families."

The first-of-its-kind report from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) is entitled Populations at Risk: Implications of Covid-19 for Hunger, Migration, and Displacement (pdf).

The report examines recent migration trends; the pandemic's impact on migrant workers, remittance-dependent households, and forcibly displaced persons; growing risks to people on the move; and food security trends in major migration and hunger hotspots. 

The report's foreword explains that "the pandemic has hit at a time when hunger has been on the rise over four consecutive years, mainly due to conflict, climate-related shocks, and economic crises. At the same time, forced displacement has reached record highs."

 The foreword says that "while overall mobility is expected to decline in 2020 due to the pandemic, it may ultimately increase over time as more people will be compelled to move if they can no longer make ends meet in their current location. Thus, well-governed migration, as outlined by the United Nations Network on Migration, is an essential component of an effective response to Covid-19."

"The socio-economic impact of the pandemic is more devastating than the disease itself," said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. "Many people in low- and middle-income countries, who a few months ago were poor but just about getting by, now find their livelihoods have been destroyed. Remittances sent from workers abroad to their families at home have also dried up, causing immense hardship. As a result, hunger rates are sky-rocketing around the world."

The WFP issued a report with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which "describes a toxic combination of conflict, economic decline, climate extremes, and the Covid-19 pandemic that is driving people further into the emergency phase of food insecurity," according to a joint statement from the U.N. agencies.

 Dominique Burgeon, FAO's director of emergencies and resilience, said Friday. "We are deeply concerned about the combined impact of several crises which are eroding people's ability to produce and access food, leaving them more and more at risk of the most extreme hunger. We need access to these populations to ensure they have food and the means to produce food and improve their livelihoods to prevent a worst-case scenario."

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