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'NZ Aid agencies warn Coronavirus and hunger will adversely impact poor children'

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Coronavirus and hunger will adversely impact poor children NZ aid agencies warn Thirteen NZ aid organisations are warning that children in low-income countries will be the most affected by the global pandemic and hunger, and they are encouraging Kiwis to help resource their global neighbours to deal effectively with the situation. The release today of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World by the UN has prompted the call to action. The report estimates that between 778 to 828 million people may go hungry this year. While it is hard to predict, a preliminary assessment suggests that Covid-19 may add between 83 and 132 million people to the total number of undernourished in the world.

Covid-19 is compounding the situation and threatening to unravel decades of progress towards the reduction of extreme poverty. The more we can do now to reduce the impact the better, says Ian McInnes, Council for International Development Chairperson and Tearfund CEO.

Extreme poverty had been reduced to about eight per cent of the world’s population, but with Covid-19 now already well established in many low-income countries, McInnes says, "without swift action, we will very likely see a rapid return to historic levels of poverty. With fractured food markets and rising unemployment, hunger levels and the numbers facing starvation are rising". According to UN researchers, the pandemic could see a further 395 million people plunged into extreme poverty. Save the Children and UNICEF say a further 86 million children could fall into poverty by the end of 2020 alone. "People here have looked after their neighbours and the most vulnerable people in New Zealand," says National Director of World Vision New Zealand, Grant Bayldon. "Now it’s time to help our global neighbours, who have been hit harder than us by this crisis. Our most essential work right now is getting food and supplies to those in need, especially in refugee camps. Donations from Kiwis will support that work."

Bayldon says we haven’t seen a disaster of this magnitude in recent history. "This is unlike a natural disaster because its impacts are not confined to one region, this is widespread and prolonged."

McInnes says, "Children are the most dependent and vulnerable in any society. In low-income countries more will be needed to protect them, not only from the virus itself but also from the downstream effects like a food security crisis that will significantly impact them more than those in higher-income countries." Kiwis can play a part in ensuring that children are properly supported and that the gains made in fighting poverty in recent years are not lost, by giving to an organisation working with children."

Adra CEO, Denison Grellmann says, "In low-income countries, there aren’t the social welfare safety nets that we have access to or the advanced health systems. Sanitation and social distancing are more challenging if you’re living in a refugee camp or a crowded urban slum. As a result, children are at greater risk of losing a parent or caregiver which can leave them destitute."

Lockdowns have also severely impacted children as parents have not been able to earn a living and families have been faced with being evicted because they can’t pay their rent, he says. The thirteen agencies are Adra, Caritas, CBM, Child Fund, Hagar, Hope St, International Needs, Orphans Aid International, Salvation Army, Save the Children, Tearfund, VSA and World Vision.

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