2020 has been a challenging year for everyone around the globe, but it has been devastating for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. The 2021 Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO) was released by the United Nations today, and it projects increasingly complex and ever-more politically driven threats to those in need. 2020 saw political conflict, record numbers of displaced people, more severe and frequent natural disasters, a rise in global hunger, and the deepest global recession since the 1930s. These threats have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and are expected to continue or worsen in the next year if nothing is done to address them [United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 2021 Global Humanitarian Overview, 2020].
To respond to the 34 ongoing humanitarian crises worldwide, the 2021 GHO appeals for $35 billion to help 160 million people in need. But unless there is significant political action taken to prevent and end humanitarian crises, the lives of these 160 million people will remain largely unchanged. Humanitarian assistance is critical in meeting needs and saving lives, but can do little to address the problems that lead to needs in the first place. In the absence of political solutions, crises have become more complex, prolonged, and deadly each year, which translates to more people in need and higher costs for the global community to help them [European Commission, Humanitarian Crises Around the World are Becoming Longer and More Complex, 2020].