11 July 2023

Three years of crises. Is the world getting better?

The climate crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia's attack on Ukraine - these are the three multidimensional crises that had the strongest impact on the world in 2020-2023. As a result, the situation of humanity has ceased to improve: for the first time in decades, the number of people suffering from hunger, poverty and in need of humanitarian aid has increased.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, the numbers have told us unequivocally: people on Earth are living better and better. From 2001 to 2019, the percentage of people living in extreme poverty on our planet more than tripled (from 26.9% in 2001 to 8.5% in 20191) - this meant that despite the increased global population, from extreme poverty more than a billion people were lifted out of poverty during this period. It was also associated with a lower percentage of people suffering from hunger: while in 2001 it was 13% of people in the world2, in 2019 this rate was only 8% (and the record low was in 2017 - 7.6%).
  • Everything was changed by the pandemic in 2020, which affected the weakest and poorest to the greatest extent, effectively also paralyzing less developed countries - comments Jakub Belina-Brzozowski from the Polish Medical Mission - Most of the people we help are not employed in sectors that could have gone into emergency mode. remote work. For example, in Jordan, employment among Syrian refugees has fallen by as much as a quarter since 2020, and due to the economic crisis, it still cannot return to its former level.
However, the pandemic was only the beginning of a crisis domino. As the world began to recover from the health and economic crisis it caused, in February 2022 Russia attacked Ukraine. This is a nightmare that has affected not only our eastern neighbors: the global grain supply chain has been disrupted, and inflation has skyrocketed. It also hit the most vulnerable hardest: the number of people in extreme poverty has increased for the first time since the turn of the century,3 and there was a significant jump in the number of people suffering from hunger.
  • This tragic trend is most clearly visible in the reports of the United Nations. In 2019, the group of people in need of humanitarian assistance was estimated at 131 million. At the beginning of 2023, we were talking about almost 3 times as many people. The main “guilty” of this situation are the pandemic and the wars in Ukraine and Ethiopia,” adds Jakub Belina-Brzozowski.
As the reporter Martín Caparrós notes in his books, in addition to wars, natural disasters and pandemics, hunger and extreme poverty are primarily caused by the unequal distribution of wealth and the food system on our planet. There is enough food and farmland in the world to feed the entire human race. Until we change the way we think about other people and our planet, we will still need the help of organizations such as the Polish Medical Mission.
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