Dec 4, 2020 - World

UN: "2021 is literally going to be catastrophic"

David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP)

David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme. Photo: Souleymane Ag Anara/AFP via Getty Images

Next year is "going to be catastrophic" in terms of worldwide humanitarian crises, World Food Program executive director David Beasley warned on Friday, per Reuters.

Driving the news: The stark outlook comes as many countries contend with not only the coronavirus pandemic, but also possible famine, economic instability, conflict and other humanitarian crises. A record 235 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection next year, a nearly 40% increase from 2020, the UN projected earlier this week

  • On Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged nations to take greater action on climate change to end the "war on nature," saying "the state of the planet is broken."

What he's saying: “2021 is literally going to be catastrophic based on what we’re seeing at this stage of the game,” Beasley told a special meeting covering COVID-19, per Reuters.

  • The WFP chief also said that famine is "knocking on the door" of dozens of countries.
  • 2021 is likely to be “the worst humanitarian crisis year since the beginning of the United Nations," Beasley added.
  • "We’re not going to be able to fund everything ... so we have to prioritize, as I say, the icebergs in front of the Titanic.”

World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also told the UN General Assembly Friday that people "simply cannot accept a world in which the poor and marginalized are trampled by the rich and powerful in the stampede for vaccine.

  • “This is a global crisis and the solutions must be shared equitably as global public goods," he said, urging countries to invest in a global vaccine-sharing program.
  • "Sharing the fruits of science is not charity, it’s in the best interests of every nation."
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