More than 139 million people affected by climate crisis and COVID-19, new analysis from IFRC reveals – YubaNet


Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate-related disasters have affected the lives of at least 139.2 million people and killed more than 17,242.

This is the finding of a new analysis published today by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Climate Center of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, on combined impacts of extreme weather events and COVID-19. An estimated 658.1 million additional vulnerable people have been exposed to extreme temperatures. Through new data and specific case studies, the report shows how people across the world face multiple crises and face overlapping vulnerabilities.

The document also highlights the need to address both crises simultaneously, as the COVID-19 pandemic has affected livelihoods across the world and made communities more vulnerable to climate risks.

IFRC President Francesco Rocca, who today presented the new report at a press conference in New York, said: “The world is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis where climate change and COVID-19 are pushing communities to their limits. Looking ahead to COP26, we urge world leaders to take immediate action not only to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also to tackle existing and imminent humanitarian impacts of climate change ”.

The report comes a year after a first analysis[1] risks of overlapping extreme weather events that occurred during the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic continues to wreak havoc, with direct impacts on the health of millions of people around the world, but also a massive indirect impact, in part due to the response measures implemented to contain the pandemic. Food insecurity caused by extreme weather events has been exacerbated by COVID-19. Health systems are pushed to their limits and the most vulnerable have been the most exposed to overlapping shocks.

In Afghanistan, the impacts of extreme drought are compounded by conflict and COVID-19. Drought has crippled agricultural food production and reduced livestock, leaving millions of people hungry and malnourished. The Afghan Red Crescent Society stepped up its relief efforts, including providing food and cash for people to buy food, plant drought-tolerant food crops and protect their livestock.

In Honduras, responding to hurricanes Eta and Iota during the pandemic also presented additional challenges. Thousands of people were left homeless in temporary shelters. Anti-COVID-19 measures in these shelters required physical distancing and other protective measures, which limited capacity.

In Kenya, the impacts of COVID-19 are met with flooding one year and droughts the next, as well as a locust infestation. Over 2.1 million people face acute food insecurity in rural and urban areas. Across the country and across East Africa, COVID-19-related restrictions have slowed flood response and awareness among affected populations, increasing their vulnerability.

Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world are not only responding to these overlapping crises, but also helping communities prepare for and anticipate climate risks.

In Bangladesh for example, the Red Crescent Society used designated IFRC funds for anticipatory actions to broadcast flood-related early warning messages through loudspeakers in vulnerable areas so that people can take the necessary action or evacuate if necessary.

Julie Arrighi, Associate Director of the RCRC Climate Center said: “Dangers don’t have to turn into catastrophes. We can counter the rising trend in risk and save lives if we change the way we anticipate crises, fund early action and reduce risk at the local level. Finally, we need to help communities become more resilient, especially in the most vulnerable contexts.

The COVID-19 pandemic has a lasting impact on climate risks. Governments must commit to investing in community adaptation, anticipation systems and local actors.

The massive spending in the COVID-19 recovery proves that governments can act quickly and drastically in the face of global threats. It’s time to turn words into action and put the same energy into the climate crisis. Every day we witness the impact of man-made climate change. The climate crisis is here, and we must act now“said Rocca.

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