World Vision Australia has released a sobering warning that the world is facing a famine so devastating it could tip 10 million children into starvation and is calling on the Australian Government to step up as a humanitarian leader in this crisis.
For many around the world, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has “stoked a hunger crisis on a scale not seen in recent memory”, according to World Vision CEO Daniel Wordsworth.
A deadly mix of Covid-19, conflict and natural disasters is putting more than 19 million people worldwide at risk of famine, a new report by World Vision has found.
According to World Vision’s Double Hardship report, this grim prediction equates to a 50% rise in people at risk of starvation compared to 2019.
“[Covid-19] has heaped yet another layer of suffering on people living in conflict hotspots – many of whom are refugees and already enduring living hell,” says Mr Wordsworth.
“These people have been torn from their homes by war and conflict, languishing in camps for years.
“And now, life just got even worse.
“That’s why we all need to come together to avert this new disaster in the world’s conflict hotspots.”
Among other findings, the report reveals that 235 million people worldwide need lifesaving assistance in 2021 – reportedly an unprecedented increase of 40% in just one year, according to UN estimates.
This has prompted World Vision to call on the Australian Government to create a $AU150 million aid package (on top of the planned expenditure for 2020-21) to prevent famine and child malnutrition in the world’s hunger hotspots.
“If the world doesn’t respond now, the hurt that so many children have already experienced will not be temporary.
“Things will be unlikely to return to ‘normal’, and millions of girls and boys will stay trapped in cycles of extreme poverty, hunger, violence and stress.
“Unless we act now to address the pandemic’s impacts on children in the hardest-hit places, the echoes of Covid-19 will permanently scare our shared future,” says Mr Wordsworth, adding that this emerging crisis has created an opportunity for Australia to step up as a humanitarian leader.
On top of a $AU150 million famine-prevention package, World Vision has also urged the Government to:
- Think longer-term and fund three new multi-year hunger-resilience programs in conflict-affected countries (such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Mozambique, Somalia, South Sudan or Syria).
- Prioritise children’s mental wellbeing in the wake of Covid-19 and earmark 10% of Australia’s 2021-22 humanitarian response budget for child protection, mental health and psychosocial support services.
- Establish a plan for Australia to meet its fair share of humanitarian funding of at least $861 million a year.
- Reverse the 2020-21 budget decision to cut Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian Program by 5000 places.
“I am confident Australia won’t just stand by and watch as this crisis unfolds. Generosity in the face of need is in our DNA,” adds Mr Wordsworth.
For more information on World Vision’s Double Hardship report, visit: worldvision.com.au/docs/default-source/publications/emergency-and-humanitarian-affairs/doublehardship.pdf?sfvrsn=1e8cb13c_4
For information on how you can support the efforts of World Vision Australia, visit: worldvision.com.au/