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G20 leaders urged to prevent soaring rates of malnutrition and hunger

AID organisations warned today that the global recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe if world leaders fail to support the poorest and most vulnerable people.

Ahead of tomorrow’s virtual G20 summit a statement by 11 international non-government organisations, including Oxfam, Save the Children and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), called for early action to prevent soaring rates of malnutrition and hunger.

“We are seeing spiralling levels of poverty and hunger among refugees and conflict-affected people,” said NRC general secretary Jan Egeland. 

“Hundreds of thousands still risk being kicked out of their homes and millions are skipping meals and dropping out of school.

“The economic impacts of Covid-19 are having a devastating effect on the world’s most vulnerable. G20 leaders have the opportunity and means to address this growing crisis. They must take it.”

The World Bank estimates that up to 150 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty by next year. 

In June, the International Rescue Committee calculated that the anticipated economic contraction could push 54 million more people in developing countries into hunger. Last month’s downgraded forecast for global gross domestic product put the number at 91 million.

Displaced and conflict-affected communities are particularly vulnerable. In recent research by the NRC across 14 crisis-affected countries, 77 per cent of survey respondents had lost a job or income from work since the pandemic broke out, resulting in 73 per cent cutting their number of household meals. 

The World Food Programme recently warned of the increased risk of famine in four countries, citing the impacts of Covid-19 as a contributing factor.   

Saturday’s summit will be hosted by serial human-rights abuser Saudi Arabia

Its five-year war on Yemen, backed by British and US bombs and other military hardware, has pushed the country to the brink of the world's worst famine in a century. 

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