A record 235 million people are expected to be in need of humanitarian aid next year because of the pandemic, 40 per cent more than this year, according to a UN forecast published on Tuesday.

“The rich world can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. The same is not true in the poorest countries,” UN humanitarian aid chief Mark Lowcock said in a statement.

“The Covid-19 crisis has plunged millions of people into poverty and sent humanitarian needs skyrocketing,” he added.

In addition to natural disasters, conflicts and climate change, the pandemic creates additional hardship, as extreme poverty and the risk of famines are rising, said Lowcock’s UN emergency aid office OCHA.

OCHA is asking donor countries for 35 million dollars to provide food, shelter and medical care for 160 million people in 56 countries next year. Other organizations like the Red Cross are set to help the rest of the 235 million people.

For 2020, OCHA appealed for nearly 39 billion dollars. However, less than half of this amount had been offered to the UN office as of late November.

The projected sum for 2021 is lower because UN appeals are becoming more targeted and more efficient, said OCHA spokesman Jens Laerke.

“The situation going into 2021 is that there are more people in need, but that doesn’t mean that the response they require is the same,” he said.

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