Asia Pacific hardest hit by COVID-19, climate-related disasters | Asia Pacific
According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), at least 51.6 million people worldwide are doubly affected by COVID-19 and climate-related disasters, including floods, droughts or storms.
In a new analysis released Thursday, the IFRC said the Asia-Pacific region was the region most affected by the “double exposure” from disasters and the coronavirus pandemic.
Around 80 percent of the world’s people affected by disasters and COVID-19 in 2020 were in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The pandemic increases the needs of people suffering from climate-related disasters, increases the vulnerabilities they face and hampers their recovery,” the IFRC said.
India and Bangladesh were hardest hit. 40 million people in both countries were affected by the pandemic and the floods or storms.
In particular, the cyclone Amphan – the strongest tropical storm in the region for more than 10 years – killed 129 people and affected around 15 million people in restricted areas, which made emergency aid such as evacuation, payment of food and emergency shelters difficult.
According to the IFRC, monsoon floods affected 17 million people in India and five million in Bangladesh. A third of the land was under water.
The Asia-Pacific region has also been hardest hit by extreme heat, which overlaps with COVID-19. 179 million people were affected out of a total of 431 million. At least another 2.3 million people have been affected by major forest fires, the IFRC added, while grappling with the direct health effects of COVID-19 or measures to contain the virus.
“These new numbers confirm what we already knew from our dedicated volunteers at the frontline: the COVID-19 climate crisis has not stopped and millions of people have suffered from the two crises that have collided,” said Francesco Rocca, President of the IFRC in a statement.
“We had absolutely no choice but to tackle both crises at the same time.”
The IFRC noted that the world is investing “unprecedented amounts” in helping economies recover from the damage caused by COVID-19 and said governments should be careful about restoring old weaknesses and investing in greener societies.
“The massive global investment in recovery from the pandemic proves that governments can act decisively and drastically in the face of looming global threats,” Rocca said.
“We desperately need the same energy for the climate, and it is vital that recovery from COVID-19 is green, resilient and inclusive if we are to protect the world’s most vulnerable communities.”