World Vision warns COVID-19 could reverse 30 years of poverty reduction progress, as it launches largest response in its history

World Vision has warned that unless the international community responds immediately and prioritises the world’s most vulnerable in the fight against COVID-19, huge progress that has been made to save lives and reduce poverty over the past 30 years will be reversed.

Children, it said would bear the brunt of this and child mortality rates, which had more than halved since 1990, could now start to increase again, it said in a statement.

This stark warning came as the international aid agency launched the largest humanitarian response in its 70-year history to curb the impact of COVID-19 among 72 million people – half of them children.

“We have never witnessed an emergency of this scale, impacting so many countries at once. For the first time in our 70 year history, we are transforming our focus in every single country to emergency response, so we can support those who are most vulnerable to combat this deadly virus and its aftershocks,”  World Vision’s International President and CEO, Andrew Morley, said.

The international child-focused aid agency is launching a US$350m response that focuses on supporting the world’s most vulnerable combat the impacts of COVID-19. The ambitious response plan will be executed in over 70 countries where 37,000 staff, 400,000 faith leaders and 220,000 community health workers will be mobilised to support prevention and response initiatives.

“World Vision is deeply concerned that the impacts of COVID-19 could permanently scar the development of a generation of the world’s most vulnerable children. Since 1990, the number of children dying from preventable causes such as poverty, hunger, and disease has more than halved.

“Unless the international community prioritises countries which are at greatest long-term risk from the impacts of COVID-19, this pandemic will leave millions of girls and boys poorer, hungrier, sicker, less educated and exposed to more violence and abuse,” he said.

The NGO  also cautioned that many low-income countries are now entering the next phase of the pandemic, an extremely dangerous phase for the world’s most vulnerable who were battling with lockdown and being forced to choose between risking exposure to the virus or starving.

“The pandemic has already swept through the world’s wealthiest countries, and now the world’s most vulnerable children are on the front lines with so little to protect them.

“In this next phase, COVID-19 could run rampant through some of the poorest, most fragile and dangerous parts of the world; places where advanced health services are almost non-existent and where lockdowns and social distancing are impossible for people who live day-to-day in crowded refugee camps, slums and settlements,” it said.

It called on world leaders, who are now focussed on responding to the impact COVID-19 has had on the economy, to place equal priority on curbing the deadly long-term impact COVID-19 on the world’s most vulnerable.

“We have launched the largest emergency response in our history but World Vision and other aid agencies cannot combat the detrimental impacts of COVID-19 on our own.

“We now challenge governments, individuals, corporations and all those who love and care for children to do much more to limit the spread of COVID-19 in low-income countries and safeguard children from the devastating aftershocks the virus could create.”

“We have one chance to get this right. We must come together and respond to this global pandemic by supporting everyone impacted across the globe, especially the most vulnerable. By following in Jesus’ footsteps, we must support those who need it most —we are called to help,” it said.

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