The International Rescue Committee said Tuesday in a new report that coronavirus could infect up to one billion people and kill 3.2 million people in 34 “crisis-affected countries,” as a pandemic exacerbates humanitarian crises.
The analysis includes countries in war zones, such as Afghanistan and Syria, as well as countries suffering from persistent poverty and a pandemic, including Greece and Venezuela.
“These numbers should be an alarm: the full, destructive and disproportionate weight of this pandemic has yet to be felt in the most fragile and war-affected countries of the world,” said committee director David Miliband in his statement. statement.
IRC is a humanitarian non-governmental organization. Last month he announced the initiative to combat the coronavirus pandemic, especially in refugee communities.
IRC’s new report, “One Size Doesn’t Fit Everyone: Mitigating COVID-19 in Humanitarian Situations,” says its ratings are conservative. The organization does not take into account limited access to health care in many countries analyzed. The report states that, for example, in South Sudan there are only four mechanical ventilation devices and 24 intensive care units.
The IRC warns that some of these countries, such as Bangladesh, have the largest and most populous refugee camps in the world, where the virus can spread even faster.
“Although COVID-19 is a new virus and much is still unknown, it is clear that its impact under these conditions will be different than in the richer countries that were first affected by the pandemic,” the report said.
A medical team member in protective suits cleans the airfield to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at Juba International Airport in Juba, South Sudan, on April 5, 2020.
Jock Solomun | REUTERS
The IRC warns that existing humanitarian crises, such as political and economic instability, combined with the Covid-19 crisis and its response, could create a “double emergency” for vulnerable countries. The report adds that the economic impact of localization measures in the poorest countries will lead to increased global poverty and food shortages.
According to the IRC, the coronavirus pandemic will double over 820 million people who are already facing food insecurity and could cause another famine in three dozen countries. IRC says sporadic border closures have already disrupted food and aid supplies in Afghanistan.
“Long-term restrictions on movement can force farmers to leave farms, sell livestock to cope with lost income, or take other measures that undermine their long-term self-sufficiency and increase their dependence on assistance,” the report said.
The IRC added that the same supply chain disruptions that led to a lack of personal protective equipment for US hospitals also threatened to damage the delivery of humanitarian aid to countries that rely on it for basic services. According to IRC, South Sudan and the Central African Republic depend on nongovernmental organizations in 80% and 75% of medical services, respectively.
A woman in a burqa is holding her baby in anticipation of receiving free wheat from the government emergency committee during a government blockade of the capital as a preventive measure against the coronavirus COVID-19 in Kabul on April 21, 2020.
Vakil Kokhsar | AFP | Getty images
The organization adds that, as global health organizations and pharmaceutical companies prioritize Covid-19 research, progress in treating other common and life-threatening diseases, such as measles, will be overlooked.
On Monday, the World Health Organization warned that children around the world would die as the coronavirus pandemic forces some countries to temporarily stop vaccinating against other deadly diseases, such as polio. At least 21 countries report a shortage of vaccines as a result of travel restrictions designed to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhan Ghebreesus said
“We are still in a critical time frame to take decisive preventative measures in the early stages of COVID-19 in many of these countries and prevent the spread of this epidemic worldwide,” said IRC Miliband.
IRC encourages countries to include humanitarian exemptions in all Covid-19 movement and export restrictions.