UN says aid needs will surge in 2022
Pandemic, climate change, conflicts pushing people to brink of famine
Published: Dec 02, 2021 06:38 PM
An airplane is about to unload humanitarian aid for victims of terrorist attacks, in Kandahar city, southern Afghanistan, Oct. 18, 2021.(Photo: Xinhua)

An airplane is about to unload humanitarian aid for victims of terrorist attacks, in Kandahar city, southern Afghanistan, Oct. 18, 2021.(Photo: Xinhua)

The UN warned Thursday that the need for humanitarian aid was skyrocketing worldwide, as the pandemic continues to rage, and climate change and conflicts push more people to the brink of famine.

The UN's humanitarian agency OCHA estimated that 274 million people worldwide would need some form of emergency assistance in 2022, up 17 percent on an already record-breaking 2021.

That means one in 29 people will need help in 2022, marking a 250 percent increase since 2015 when one in 95 needed assistance, OCHA found in its Global Humanitarian Overview report.

The number of people in need "has never been as high as this," UN aid chief Martin Griffiths told reporters. 

Providing aid to so many "is not sustainable, but it has to be sustained," he said.

The annual appeal by UN agencies and other humanitarian organizations said that providing aid to the 183 million most vulnerable people across 63 countries in 2022 would require $41 billion - up from the $35 billion requested for 2021 and double what was requested just four years ago.  

The report presented a depressing picture of soaring needs brought on by conflicts and worsening instability in places like Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Myanmar.

Natural disasters and climate change also drove up displacement and humanitarian needs, as did the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, it found.

It pointed out that the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic - which has officially killed more than 5 million people globally and likely many times that - along with measures aimed at reining in the virus, had pushed some 20 million more people into extreme poverty.

It has also devastated health systems worldwide, with testing for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria for instance plunging 43 percent, and 23 million children worldwide missing basic childhood vaccines in 2021.

At the same time, climate-related disasters are becoming more frequent, the report said, warning that by 2050 as many as 216 million people could be forced to move within their own countries due to the effects of global warming.

Climate change is contributing to rising hunger and food insecurity, with famine-like conditions remaining a "real and terrifying possibility for 45 million people in 43 countries around the world," it warned.

"Without sustained and immediate action, 2022 could be catastrophic," it cautioned, pointing out that as many as 811 million people worldwide are already undernourished.

Conflicts are also taking a devastating toll across a range of countries.

Need had especially surged in Afghanistan, in the grip of multiple crises that have been exacerbated since the Taliban swept back into power in August and international aid dried up.