(Source: MJ/Caritas Internationalis)
The Catholic relief and development network Caritas Internationalis has warned that the number of starving people in the world could double as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and could reach as high as 230 million.
Full text of the statement of Caritas Internationalis:
Caritas Internationalis is highly concerned by the major humanitarian crisis to which the post-pandemic is heading and urges the international community to take courageous and immediate action.
The confederation notes that in the last four months, international political and media attention has rightly focused on the spread of the virus.
Unfortunately, the aftershock of the pandemic is announcing to be even more complicated and more deadly than the impact of the virus itself, especially for the most vulnerable communities in the poorest countries.
Lockdown in Europe, the US and in China and Japan has deregulated the global economy which is now grounded and economical exchanges are at the lowest ebb.
The United Nations’ World Food Programme projects worldwide that the number of people on the brink of starvation will double as a result of COVID-19 and could reach 230 million people.
Africa is the worst affected continent, experiencing food shortages, due to the lockdown, as well as a diversity of disasters such as floods, drought, locust invasion, poor harvest.
Many countries in the Middle East, Latin America and in Asia are already on the verge of a severe food crisis leading to child malnutrition, starvation of the adults.
Migrants are among some of the most vulnerable groups. Internally Displaced People and the returnees are also severely affected by the food crisis and lack of safe living conditions. Many returnees to Venezuela may face starvation or severe hunger.
Undocumented migrants are another community that will be the worst affected because they do not fall into any of the categories that can get public aid.
Access to essential, affordable services, and in particular to health care, should be guaranteed by local authorities to them.
Caritas Internationalis’ Secretary General, Aloysius John, said: “We are conscious that we are before an atypical emergency wherein the major donor countries are the most affected by the virus. But we need to know that the diversion of international aid to respond to national needs will not be the right solution.”
Caritas Internationalis therefore urges the international community to:
- Suspend economic sanctions against Libya, Iran, Venezuela, and Syria in order to enable the importation of medicines, medical equipment, and basic necessities for the population.
- Give Faith-Based Organisations the necessary means to respond to priority needs as a result of COVID-19, which means carrying out micro development programmes that can ensure food security for the poorest communities, as well as humanitarian, health and cash assistance.
- Allocate additional funds for supporting the most vulnerable communities to survive during this period of lockdown.
- Ensure access to essential and affordable services for IDPs and refugees, including access to IDPs and refugee camps to ensure humanitarian aid.
“We can stop another major humanitarian crisis if courageous and bold actions are taken to anticipate and support the most vulnerable communities. Caritas Internationalis joins Pope Francis’ call for promoting ‘creative global solidarity’ and look beyond the COVID-19 response to avoid another major humanitarian tragedy,” John added.