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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."

Go deeper

Jan 23, 2021 - World

Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine

Containers carrying doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine arrive in Brazil. Photo: Maurio Pimentel/AFP via Getty Images

Brazil on Saturday began distributing the 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine that arrived from India Friday, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Brazil has the third highest COVID-19 case-count in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The 2 million doses "only scratch the surface of the shortfall," Brazilian public health experts told the AP.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Jan 23, 2021 - Health

Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden's plan to accelerate the reopening of K-8 schools faces major challenges from a still out-of-control pandemic and more contagious coronavirus variants.

Why it matters: The longer American kids miss in-person schooling, the further they fall behind. But the uncertain state of the science on the role young children play in the pandemic continues to complicate efforts to reopen schools.

Latest James Bond movie release delayed for third time

An advertisement poster featuring Daniel Craig in the new James Bond movie "No Time to Die" in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo: Mladen Antonov/AFP via Getty Images

The release of the latest James Bond film, "No Time to Die," has been postponed for the third time as the coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate Hollywood.

The state of play: The film's release, initially scheduled for April 2020, was first postponed to November 2020, and then to April 2021. MGM said this week that movie's global debut will now be delayed until Oct. 8.

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