Lambers: Refugees face twin dangers of coronavirus, hunger
This World Refugee Day (June 20) is crucial for giving attention to the forgotten victims of the coronavirus and hunger pandemic. Refugees today are facing the danger of the coronavirus in addition to hunger and malnutrition.
Millions of people worldwide have been displaced by war and climate change, and the silent threats of hunger and disease follow them everywhere. We are their best hope by providing humanitarian aid.
The UN World Food Program warns this summer: “A silent hunger pandemic is poised to sweep across the world, sowing seeds of famine in its wake.” Global hunger combined with the spread of the coronavirus has created the worst food crisis since World War II. Millions of people will starve to death worldwide unless we take action. Refugees are the most vulnerable, especially children.
Just imagine how horrific it is for a family in Burkina Faso, where extremist violence has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and disrupted food supplies. Now the deadly coronavirus is spreading in that West African nation, making it harder for food to be distributed because of safety issues.
In Burkina Faso, displaced families have moved to communities which are also suffering from extreme poverty. They need humanitarian aid as well, including measures to stop the coronavirus. Refugee camps around the globe now face an extra layer of danger with COVID-19 they did not have last year.
As devastating as the virus is, more lives are in danger of hunger. World Food Program Director David Beasley said: “In a worst-case scenario, we could be looking at famine in about three dozen countries.”
There has not been enough funding to keep up with ongoing emergencies. Beasley says, “135 million people on earth are marching towards the brink of starvation. But now the World Food Program analysis shows that, due to the coronavirus, an additional 130 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020. That’s a total of 265 million people. ”
The civil wars in Yemen and Syria have caused mass disruptions. Refugees from Syria’s war are displaced throughout the Middle East and Europe. Drought in Southern Africa and the Horn of Africa has also caused displacement and food shortages. The conflict in the Sahel of Africa likewise has caused increasing hunger and refugees. Afghanistan suffers from conflict, drought and hunger.
With the virus spreading, the food supply chain is under even more strain in already weakened countries.
You can save lives by being an advocate for the hungry, especially the refugees. Bread for the World encourages citizens to write letters to Congress urging them to make global food aid a priority in the budget. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has launched the Lead the Way on Hunger Campaign asking citizens to advocate for funding to the Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole food aid programs.
Just by holding a fundraiser, you can help charities feeding refugees like the World Food Program (WFP). Students at Mount St. Joseph University, University of Cincinnati, Cal Poly and University of Illinois are holding a Freerice match this summer to raise donations for WFP.
You can also help charities like WFP, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Save the Children, UNICEF, CRS, Action Against Hunger, CARE and many others.
We need to take action during this tragic global hunger pandemic, especially for the refugees who are most in need.