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Palestine, Lebanon added to IRC’s 2021 emergency watchlist

December 17, 2020 at 2:12 pm

Palestinian children can be seen doing their homework in their makeshift home in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Gaza, 20 November 2017 [Ezz Zanoun/ApaImages]

Palestine and Lebanon have been added to the International Red Cross (IRC) emergency watchlist for 2021.

This year’s list also includes Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Mali and Afghanistan, but Iraq and Libya, which featured in 2020, have been removed.

The list identifies 20 countries at the greatest risk of a major new, or significantly worsened, humanitarian crisis in the following 12 months.

Palestine is on the 2021 list because the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated existing emergencies in the country, the report says.

Su’ad Jarbawi, regional vice president of the IRC, said: “The situation in Palestine is dire, notably in Gaza where there is a double lockdown – a 13 year long blockade and now restrictions related to the pandemic.”

The report warns the situation in Palestine is rapidly deteriorating because humanitarian agencies are facing record low funding levels, citing the US decision to withdraw support for UNRWA.

The IRC does not currently operate in the occupied Palestinian territories but is monitoring and assessing the conflict to determine if and when to enter the location, the report added.

READ: Life a ‘waking nightmare’ for 12 million children in Yemen, UNICEF Chief says

Lebanon, meanwhile, has been added to the list over concerns the country is struggling to recover from the 4 August Beirut blast and simultaneously deal with an economic collapse, political deadlock and coronavirus pandemic.

“The explosion and arrival of COVID-19 gave both placed enormous pressure on the highly vulnerable population”, the report reads.

Adding: “Ongoing political and economic crises show no signs of progress to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in the immediate term.”

A food insecurity crisis looms in 2021 for Lebanon, according to the report, which warns the country could face famine when Central Bank subsidies on basic goods end in the new year.

Other countries featured on the list include Yemen, which has retained the top spot for a third year in a row.

The IRC report claims 80 per cent of the population is in need of aid but warns that the humanitarian response has been effectively shut down by the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile Syria, which will mark a decade of domestic conflict in 2021, has taken the 3rd place position on the list.

The Syrian crisis, according to the report, “has continued to reach new lows as conflict, displacement and needs grow”.

The report warns Syria is the deadliest location for humanitarians and that aid workers have increasingly been denied access to people in need.

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