GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. humanitarian office says needs for assistance have ballooned to unprecedented levels this year because of COVID-19, projecting that a staggering 235 million people will require help in 2021.
This comes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and global challenges, including conflicts, forced migration, and the impact of global warming.
“The humanitarian system again proved its worth in 2020, delivering food, medicines, shelter, education, and other essentials to tens of millions of people,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in a press release. “But the crisis is far from over. Humanitarian aid budgets face dire shortfalls as the impact of the global pandemic continues to worsen. Together, we must mobilize resources and stand in solidarity with people in their darkest hour of need.”
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, expects a 40% increase in the number of people in need of such assistance in 2021 compared to this year.
OCHA made the projections in its latest annual Global Humanitarian Overview on Tuesday, saying its hopes to reach 160 million of those people in need will cost $35 billion. Still, OCHA says they’ve only raised $17 billion thus far.
UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock told a U.N. briefing that the U.N. appeal could raise $20 billion by the end of the year, which according to the Associated Press, is $2 billion more than last year.
“We can let 2021 be the year of the grand reversal – the unraveling of 40 years of progress – or we can work together to make sure we all find a way out of this pandemic,” Lowcock said.