As COVID 19 continues to stand out in 2021, monitoring and oversight on policy and action may become extremely critical due to the global recession. The new US government may not necessarily shape up global policy for the greater part of this year, with most Americans taking desperate measures to survive a fragile economy. The harsh migration policies of President Trump may have complicated the situation further as the new government carefully moves forward in easing restrictions but will they be able to accommodate people entering the United States during a high-risk pandemic scenario?
Peace agreements across the world need to be tackled with care as most parts of the world are facing chaotic trends, reeling from the damage control left incomplete due to an extremely eventful 2020. In Africa, the peace process based on cash injections into the socio-economic pipeline has been stripped off the cash and is non-binding. Although there are interested governments looking to take over this market, barriers to entry have risen in the last 12 months as nations remained insulated from one another.
The last two decades have seen a dramatic rise in climate disasters, as 13 out of 21 most vulnerable nations may also register a global humanitarian appeal in 2021 with a majority of nations citing ‘active conflict’. What was a former short term crisis, may now become a repeat crisis event with climate risk multiplying faster than ever. For example, Fiji emerged from a Category 5 cyclone late last year with hundreds of millions of dollars in repercussion costs this year, adding onto the earlier damage control costs of the April Cyclone in Vanuatu- which will eat up half of the nations GDP.
Elsewhere in South Asia, the effects of the typhoon Amphan rattled Bangladesh and coastal India leading to migration and emergency relocations, in the aftermath of the Monsoon rains magnifying the pressure on populations and government, eroding lands and impacting lives as a defining crisis that will continue this year. What we have found out during the pandemic is that the most vulnerable countries are not always the ones to receive the most ‘adaptation funding’, with a political block when it comes to compensation for climate losses and damages.
Central America is going through its own ‘ecocide’ with Venezuela in ruins as oil revenues continue the nosedive plunging the nation into a deeper humanitarian crisis. Estimates indicate that the country may end up with a refugee crisis of up to 7 million or higher this year, as neighboring nations stir up higher regulations, with over 140,000 people returning back via Brazil and Columbia due to COVID19. Approximately 1.8 million Venezuelan people in Columbia are undocumented, something that will leave them deprived of vaccinations, and may end up being deported as a health risk.
Hunger and famine have already taken their toll in the Middle East, with a state of emergency in Yemen and elsewhere in nations like Nigeria and South Sudan, The conditions in these hotspots have been further accelerated due to the pandemic as global food prices closed on a six-year high in December, creating a wide-ranging threat of poverty, job losses and the inability of aid workers to reach in time due to imposed travel bans.
Displacement and violence will impact many countries this year including Afghanistan, Haiti, Cameroon, Lebanon, Syria, Sudan, and Zimbabwe, with locust attacks also threatening Somalia, Nigeria, and Pakistan during the upcoming draught season. Global hunger needs exceeded in 2020 but attracted 46% of the required funding with major donor nations like the UK and Germany facing their own lockdown challenges. According to a recent OECD report, the global recovery may not be possible until the end of 2021.
In the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis zone called Yemen, more than 30 million people stand to suffer despite $8.6 billion funding last year and additional funding of $3 billion this year under the COVID19 emergency pool fund, where only 56% percent would be achieved from 86% last year. There are fears of the unstoppable health crisis this year as vaccines for measles, polio, and other preventable diseases were canceled last year due to the eruption of COVID19, leaving over 94 million children missing out. Polio continues to emerge in countries like Pakistan and Nigeria.
The challenges that were present at the beginning of the pandemic remain the same. Lack of access to high-impact war and conflict zones, insecurity, poor health care systems, and lack of trust is some of the primary areas of concern that will mount pressure on the governments and will have regional consequences. Attacks on polio workers in Pakistan, sexual abuse in the DRC, and mistreatment of the Rohingya tribes in Myanmar are some of the prime examples of social injustice that remain unchecked.
Globally, gender-based violence (GBV) levels have escalated, leading to even higher migration numbers from Mexico and Central America to the United States and Europe. Women and girls face harder times this year with an over a 25% increase in violence according to UN reports.
GBV has risen to alarming levels from Greece to Mexico and Bangladesh to Thailand with an unprecedented spike in unwanted pregnancies and maternal mortality with clinics and hospitals either closed for sanitary reasons or lack of funding or both.
What lies ahead?
Numbers do not tell the full story. What lies ahead this year is another pandemic year with higher COVID casualties and very little data when it comes to women and girls still undergoing mistreatment while under lockdown. For example, pregnant women were left out of vaccine trials, making it difficult to predict future outcomes. The increased number of women suicides in Afghanistan is also an alarming trend for 2021, something that may lead to higher migrations into bordering nations like Pakistan and India, which are both under a perpetual war-like crisis.
Big nations like China and Russia in the eastern bloc have to take a responsive role in curbing the stress full climate in the region as the pandemic will rage on in coming months till the vaccine distribution actually starts by the mid or end of the year within Asia- the largest populated continent on earth.
Climate risk is imminent. The sooner we connect the disaster management supply chains and get global funding approved, the better we will emerge out of this pandemic. Till then, 2021 will remain to be a difficult year on earth.
The author is an environmentalist & change maker, with over 20 years of expertise in Media, Education and Banking sectors. He is the founder and director of Children Nature Network Asia, a leading advocacy and training initiative operating across Asia. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.