#UN; #UNDP; #Covid19Pandemic; #Migration; #Poverty
United Nations, Sep 26 (Canadian-Media): The fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic is adding a “deadly layer of complexity” to the global challenge of preventing more people from falling into poverty, a view articulated in a photographic exhibition sponsored by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
A migrant labourer in India holds a photo of his mother who was killed in a road accident as they returned home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Image credit: UNDP India/Dhiraj Singh
One hundred million more people are expected to be pushed into extreme poverty in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, an unfolding human tragedy which has been captured on film by eight photographers who have travelled across the world to tell the stories of the most vulnerable.
The impact on people’s access to health, education, work and property is documented in a series of intimate images.
Their photographs are being displayed at the Photoville Exhibit in New York City until the end of November 2020.
Read more here about the exhibition and how photographers are depicting a “once-in-a-century crisis”.
The pandemic has added a deadly layer of complexity to those pressing challenges. It’s a once-in-a century crisis, with consequences that will leave deep scars for years to come.
With up to 100 million more people being pushed into extreme poverty in 2020, 1.4 billion children affected by school closures, and record unemployment, COVID-19 is a huge impediment to human progress. UNDP has predicted that global human development is on course to decline this year for the first since the concept was introduced.
UNDP’s Photoville exhibit, in New York City shines a spotlight on the pandemic’s effects as it sweeps over the rich and the poor—from the deserted streets of the mighty economic engine of New York City, to the so-called “Sewage Slum” of Nairobi, where some of the world’s most vulnerable people face even more hardship.
The full exhibition will display at the Photoville Exhibit at Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York City, 15 September through 29 November 2020.
#UN; #WFP; #Famine; #Hunger; #poverty; #HungerPademic
Geneva/UN, Sep 25 (Canadian-Media): The UN is warning of an impending hunger pandemic across the world, partly a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the World Food Programme (WFP) preparing to launch an unprecedented food aid operation, UN News spoke to WFP Assistant Executive-Director Valerie Guarnieri, on the devastating rise in hunger, and the scale of funding needed to feed those most vulnerable.
A child receiving food in Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. COVID-19 risks undermining efforts to reduce hunger. Image credit: WFP/Saikat Mojumder
In her role as WFP deputy chief, Valerie Guarnieri leads programme and policy developments towards ending hunger, including efforts to ensure protection and inclusion; expand school meals and nutrition programmes; empower women; build resilient food systems; and support cash transfers and social protection.
In this interview, part of an SDG Media Zone series, taking place during the high-level opening of the General Assembly, Ms. Guarnieri warned that billions are still needed to fund the agency’s projects, and explains why food systems urgently need to be transformed.
UN News: Why has COVID-19 dramatically increased the threat of hunger?
Valerie Guarnieri: Before COVID-19, we were already seeing a rise in hunger, after decades of having hunger on the run, because of conflict and because of climate change.
What we're seeing is that that hunger is being taken to new levels. On the one hand, food prices are going go up and, at the same time, people are feeling the hit of the socio-economic crisis. So, families are struggling to afford the food they need, to survive and to thrive.
UN News: WFP is launching what is possibly the largest food aid operation in history. What does that look like?
Valerie Guarnieri: We’re scaling up to reach 138 million people this year. It’s a huge operation for us and means that we need to mobilize the resources that we need. We’re still $5 billion short of our target.
We need to be buying food, getting it ready to reach the people who have been affected, and then we need to ramp up our cash assistance for households, pump-priming our cash programmes to ensure that people can buy food in the market.
So, it's a massive undertaking for which we need a lot more support. A few months ago, we called on donor governments to advance financing that they had already committed for the year. And many did that.
But what we've seen is that, with COVID, the impact on hunger is really growing, and so our programs have had to scale up even further.
Governments have also turned to WFP to assist them in buying the food that they need to keep their social protection systems going, or to help make those programs more effective. That’s why we need an additional $5 billion before the end of the year, so that we can deliver on those promises.
UN News: For many people, food systems just aren't working. Two billion people are obese, a trillion dollars-worth of food is wasted every year, yet millions go hungry. What's the answer?
Valerie Guarnieri: When we're looking at food systems, we're basically talking about everything from farm to fork, and here we need to make sure that those systems, and each step in that value chain, is delivering food security for all, in a sustainable way for the planet.
Food systems are also a huge contributor to climate change, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and in terms of deforestation. That’s why the UN Secretary-General has called for a Food Systems Summit next year.
This is a great opportunity for us to align public sector, private sector, and everything that needs to come into place, to make sure that food systems really deliver for all.
The World Food Programme (WFP) grain stored in Hudaydah's Red Sea Mills has been inaccessible for over five months and is at risk of rotting.
UN News: David Beasley, the head of the World Food Programme, recently addressed the Security Council and raised the alarm of a “hunger pandemic”. Do you share his fears?
Valerie Guarnieri: We are on the verge of famine in a number of countries. And this comes as a result of conflict. It comes as a result of climate shocks, but it's also compounded and exacerbated by the effect of COVID-19.
And we've seen donor nations stepping up to provide resources, to support WFP programs and also partner programs that target the most vulnerable and seek to support them. But it's not enough.
There's a huge amount of wealth in the public sector and in the hands of very wealthy individuals. And it's essential that it comes together, to prevent this from happening.
The famine is absolutely preventable, but it requires political, and financial innovation.
UN News: We’re speaking in the United States, the richest country in the world, but even here, there are many people who are suffering food insecurity and going to bed hungry.
Valerie Guarnieri: Well, countries like the United States have the wherewithal to ensure that no child goes to sleep hungry. And in situations like we have now, it's absolutely imperative that the US matches the stimulus support that they're providing, with efforts to ensure that it reaches, and targets, those who are most vulnerable.
But that's not enough. It's also essential that the U S and other rich nations reach out and support those around the world, whose governments don't have the wherewithal to provide that support.
I think COVID-19 has shown us, almost more than anything else, how connected we all are. And it is incumbent on all to ensure that we reach those furthest behind.
UN News: for many vulnerable children, school may be their only chance of getting a meal. Are you in favour of reopening schools?
School meals are the largest global safety net, and they provide a lifeline for children. You can't learn on an empty stomach. Valerie Guarnieri, Assistant Executive-Director, World Food Programme
Valerie Guarnieri: It's absolutely essential to get children back to school, wherever it's safe for them to do so, so that they can have access to the learning that comes through being in school, and engaging directly with their teachers and their peers, but also so that they can access a nutritious meal.
School meals are the largest global safety net, and they provide a lifeline for children both to ensure that their food needs are met, but also to help them benefit more from the learning. You can't learn on an empty stomach.
UN News: You must often have to deal with some harrowing situations. Is the situation regarding hunger bleak, or are you seeing any positive signs?
Valerie Guarnieri: One of the really positive signs that we've been seeing at WFP is how nations are really stepping up to ensure that their systems are catering to the most vulnerable.
Fifty nations have approached the WFP specifically for help to ensure that their systems are adapted, are more efficient, and more effective in reaching the most vulnerable.
At the end of the day, nations are on the frontline for addressing the problems for keeping hunger and the hunger pandemic at bay. And for me, it's been really encouraging to see the number of nations who are really stepping up to do that.
#UN; #Palestine; #Covid19; #UNWRA; #Refugees; #UNHCR
UN, Sep 5 (Canadian-Media):The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a health and socio-economic emergency across the occupied Palestinian territory, the UN agency for the region warned on Friday, noting a swell of coronavirus cases in recent weeks.
A health worker provides COVID-19 information to a patient visiting the Jerusalem Health Center. Image credit:: UNRWA/Louise Wateridge
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA), said that it requires some $95 million to cover the emergency needs of 5.6 million registered Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, until the end of December.
The funds will, among other things, focus on health, cash assistance and education.
Until now, UNRWA’s efforts to contain the virus among those it assists have been largely successful.
But spokesperson Tamara Alrifai, said that between July and September, the number of cases soared from 200, to nearly 4,000.
COVID-19 cases surged in the West Bank, Lebanon and Syria in July, she said, with more recent increases in Jordan, and the first cases of local transmission was recorded in late-August.
“That’s a really dramatic jump…mostly due to the longer-term socioeconomic impact of the lockdown and the closures and the fact that beyond a few weeks, it was not possible to keep everybody confined in camps because Palestine refugees needed to go back to work”, she explained.
Refugees must work To minimize contagion risks, UNRWA was able to adjust its working methods to provide healthcare and hospital care, including switching to remote learning.
To avoid crowds in its distribution centres, the UN agency delivered medicines and food to people’s homes, which also helped containment of the virus.
However, the recent surge has made this even more challenging because of the longer-term impact of the lockdown and closures on household economies.
Fear of worsening spread Unless the UN is able to support refugees to stay in camps and meet people’s medical needs, Ms. Alrifai flagged growing fears of an outbreak in very densely populated communities.
“This funding is crucial for controlling the spread of the pandemic in Palestine refugee camps and to help prevent a major outbreak”, the UNRWA spokesperson stressed.
Schools in session Meanwhile, despite financial and other challenges, over half a million children are enrolled in 711 UNRWA schools in the West Bank – encompassing East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon – where they receive a quality education, including classes on human rights, and conflict resolution.
UNRWA Commissioner-General, Philippe Lazzarini, made the decision to open schools for the new academic year, primarily to ensure that every girl and boy has access to equitable quality education.
He believes that resuming classes also gives children a greater sense of normality within what is a highly unpredictable region.