when the poorest are hit the hardest

While we’re all consumed by the battle against Covid-19 many of us may not realise that there is another crisis happening at the moment.

Many of us will know that the virus has caused a recession – we’ve all faced hardships over the last 12 months and the never-ending lines outside of Centrelink are hard to look away from when the images appear on the news.

However, the pandemic has not only triggered a recession at home – reports indicate that it has triggered the deepest global recession since the 1930s.

In fact, according to a statement released by World Vision Australia earlier this month, “extreme poverty has risen for the first time in 22 years, and unemployment has increased dramatically”.

And according to the World Bank, Covid-19 will add up to 150 million extreme poor in 2021 – half of them children.

Let’s sit with that for a minute – 150 million people who are extremely poor, half of them (that’s 75 million) children.

The World Vision Australia statement continues: “Globally in 2020, the number of people receiving cash and voucher assistance from World Vision increased to 6.4 million: a staggering 60% increase compared with 2019 …”

“The economic devastation from this pandemic has been immerse, and it has hit some of the poorest hardest,” says World Vision Australia CEO Daniel Wordsworth.

“As countries rebuild their economies, we need to ensure the economic recovery from this pandemic reduces inequality, rather than worsening it.

“A year ago, World Vision launched the largest emergency response in our history, having since reached almost 60 million people in 70 countries.

“But this is a massive crisis, and we can’t act alone, which is why we are calling on governments, individuals, and corporations to help us prioritise children and urgently respond to the devastation this pandemic has caused,” he says.

According to World Vision Australia, the pandemic has “put at risk 20 years of hard-won gains” and “could wipe out 20 years of progress in tackling HIV, TB and malaria, potentially doubling annual death tolls”.

‘Headed toward the biggest famine in modern history

While admittedly the first time I heard about Yemen it was because I went to see the Hollywood movie titled, ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’, I now know the Republic of Yemen – an Arab country occupying the southwestern to the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula – is a about a whole lot more than that simply a movie.

And, well, Yemen is in crisis.

According to the United Nations (UN) World Food Programme (WFP), “millions in Yemen are at risk of starvation without immediate intervention”.  

In fact, as the UN WFP website reads: “nearly 50,000 people in Yemen are already living in famine-like conditions with five million just a step away”.

Again, let’s sit with that: more than five MILLION people in potential famine. We have to ask ourselves the question: how would you or I feel about going without food for an hour, a day, a month, a year …?

Not only that, but Yemen is also a country in conflict, and, despite its plight, has not been spared from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, Covid-19 doesn’t discriminate … if there’s equality anywhere on this planet it’s with how this virus operates. Infections for all.

Speaking to the UN Security Council on 11 March 2021, The UN WFP Executive Director, David Beasley said: “Just two days ago, I was in Yemen, where over 16 million people now face crisis levels of hunger or worse.

“These aren’t just numbers. These are people.

“And we are headed straight toward the biggest famine in modern history. It is hell on earth in many places in Yemen right now.

“Around 400,000 children may die in Yemen this year without urgent intervention. That is roughly one child every 75 seconds.

“So, while we’re sitting here, every [75 seconds] a child is dying.

“Are we really going to turn our backs on them and look the other way?”

Speaking about the conflict in Yemen, Mr Beasley said that “looming famines have two things in common: they are primarily driven by conflict, and they are entirely preventable”.

“Beyond the immediate crisis, we also need to invest in peace, so that in the future, desperate families are not forced to the brink of survival by the bullet and the bomb,” said Mr Beasley.

As the WFP website reads: “Only peace can break the corrosive cycle of hunger and conflict that has stalked the country for six years”.

Image by WFP. “Mr David Beasley Executive Director World Food Programme, Visit to Yemen, 8-9 March 2021.”

How we can help

While World Vision Australia has called on the Australian Federal Government to “fund a $150 million emergency food aid package in the upcoming Federal Budget”, for anyone who would like to help in this crisis, visit: wfp.org/countries/yemen and worldvision.com.au/ to learn more.

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