World Vision has more than quadrupled its global COVID-19 appeal to $US350 million, as the organisation revealed it could be responding to the crisis for at least another 18 months.
World Vision also warned that unless the international community responded immediately and prioritised the world’s most vulnerable in the fight against COVID-19, the progress of the past 30 years in halving child death rates could be halved.
Detailing the largest response in the charity’s 70-year history. World Vision International president and CEO Andrew Morley said the organisation had never witnessed an emergency of this scale.
“For the first time in our 70-year history we are transforming our focus in every single country to an emergency response, so we can support those who are most vulnerable to combat this deadly virus and its aftershocks,” Mr Morley said.
The child-focussed aid agency has beefed up its global appeal from $US80 million ($AU124 million) to US$350m ($AU548 million) in a response that reflects the serious and protracted nature of the pandemic in vulnerable communities.
The ambitious response plan will roll out in more than 70 countries, with the aim of reaching 72 million people – half of them children. It fears the virus could run rampant through some of the poorest, most fragile and dangerous parts of the world, where advanced health services are almost non-existent and where lockdowns and social distancing are impossible for people who live in slums, settlements or crowded refugee camps.
Mr Morley said child mortality rates had more than halved since 1990, but this could now start to increase again if the international community did not adequately respond to the crisis. Their call comes only a week after the World Food Program warned that the number of people facing starvation could double if dramatic action was not taken to stem the spread of the virus in vulnerable countries.
“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.
“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.”