COVID-19 has struck every country, with people on the move being disproportionately affected by the pandemic’s severe socioeconomic effects, according to a report released on Monday by an international humanitarian network.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said its new research showed that the pandemic has impacted every country worldwide, highlighting its secondary consequences on communities and individuals.
“The destructive secondary impacts of this pandemic have damaged the fabric of our society and will be felt for years, if not decades, to come,” IFRC President Francesco Rocca said at an online news conference.
“From the outset, this pandemic has been defined by profound inequalities. People who were already vulnerable, due to conflict, climate change and poverty, have been pushed further towards the edge.”
The new research provides a global overview and focuses on 10 countries, including Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Kenya, the Philippines, and South Africa.
Rocca said many people who were previously able to cope have become vulnerable, needing humanitarian support for the first time in their lives.
The crisis has caused increased unemployment and poverty, increased food insecurity, a higher vulnerability to violence, and a loss of education and reduced opportunities for children, according to the report.
“It has also exacerbated mental health issues,” said Rocca.
Overall, women’s incomes were more significantly affected, they were at greater risk of COVID-19 due to caregiving roles, more exposed to sexual and gender-based violence, and experienced mental health impacts to a greater degree than men, said the Red Cross.
“In urban areas, poverty rates grew, in some cases at a faster pace than in rural areas,” the report said.
“People on the move were more likely to lose jobs or have their hours cut during the pandemic and have been widely neglected by formal protection and safeguarding measures.”
The report signals that the world is heading for a wildly unequal recovery, depending on the efficacy and equity of vaccination programs.
“We have consistently warned that the inequitable distribution of vaccines will not only allow for high levels of transmission to continue, but that this inequity will also hinder, prolong, or exacerbate the impacts of this pandemic,” said Rocca.
“While we continue to allow profits to trump humanity and richer countries continue to monopolize doses, we will never be able to say that this pandemic is over.”