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People battling hunger, extreme poverty on rise

Published : Thursday, 9 December, 2021 at 12:00 AM  Count : 201

One in 29 people worldwide needs humanitarian assistance as underfunded aid agencies struggle to keep pace with rising human suffering driven by the climate crisis, Covid-19 impacts and conflict, said the United Nations on Thursday.
The number of people in need continues to rise "at an alarming rate", with a total of 274 million people expected to require humanitarian assistance next year - up 17 per cent from 2020.
Growing numbers of people are battling hunger and extreme poverty as a result of more extreme weather, such as Hurricanes Eta and Iota
that hit Central America last year, and a drought in Afghanistan that is the worst in 27 years, UN officials said.
This year the "climate crisis reached boiling point," said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the launch of an appeal for $41 billion to provide life-saving assistance next year to a record 183 million people - those considered most at need.
But aid requirements continue to outpace funding, he said in a video address during an online event hosted by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington-based think-tank.
John J. Hamre, CSIS president, said climate change impacts are "running rampant" around the world.
"The humanitarian response is not keeping up - it is failing to deal with these great challenges," he said.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and non-profits called for women-led organisations in local communities to receive priority for funding.
Such groups are often the first responders to deal with extreme weather events.
Climate change can erode agricultural production, deepen poverty, and exacerbate the underlying political, social, and economic stresses that provoke and prolong conflict in fragile states, expert said.
In countries experiencing lengthy conflicts, such as Yemen, Afghanistan, and Syria, climate change is "looming over it all, exacerbating losses and undoing gains," said USAID Administrator Samantha Power.
A shift in approach is needed to bring protracted conflicts to an end, using relentless diplomacy, she said.
Part of the shift involves working more closely with local communities, faith-based groups and women as humanitarian relief is delivered, and as climate adaptation plans are put in place.
"Forced migration is a phenomenon closely linked to climate, in addition to poverty and violence," said Claudia Herrera, head of the Guatemala-based CEPREDENAC centre for disaster prevention in Central America.
Men often migrate first, leaving women behind who then struggle to feed their families, she said.
"Women are the first to sacrifice nutrition and education," said Herrera.
Natalia Kanem, head of the UN's sexual and reproductive health agency, UNFPA, said the climate crisis produces a "gender chain reaction" that affects women more in terms of hunger and livelihoods lost.

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