The Norwegian Government has announced a multibillion plan that is meant to alleviate the damaging effects of humanitarian crises to the economy and livelihoods now felt the world over.
In what would be a sigh of relief to Kenya that was almost brought to its knees on account of the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftershocks, the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has set aside Norwegian Krone (NOK) 5.5 billion, equivalent to Kenyan Sh65.4 billion, for urgent humanitarian assistance.
"In line with the Government’s humanitarian strategy, Norway will work to ensure an effective response in areas where the needs are greatest,” said the Ministry in a statement.
Moreover, it noted, "In 2021, we will maintain our focus on protection, in particular protection against sexual and gender-based violence, protection of children and young people, and protection of civilians from land mines and other explosives."
The Ministry also said that the funds would be available for any country adversely suffering the effects of climate change. COVID-19 is not out of the picture either.
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“There has been a dramatic rise in humanitarian needs in recent years, due to armed conflict, climate change and poverty in countries and regions affected by fragility. In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis have further exacerbated the situation,” it said.
As a result, the Ministry revealed that the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance and protection worldwide is higher than ever before.
“Food security has deteriorated, it has become more difficult to provide protection for vulnerable groups, and there has been a sharp increase in sexual and gender-based violence.”
Such that on hunger alone, the Ministry said the number of people in danger of acute food insecurity is expected to increase to 270 million by the end of 2020.
"The 80 million people currently displaced across the globe are among the most vulnerable. Many of them are living in camps and in cramped conditions, which increases the risk that diseases like Covid-19 will spread," the Ministry said.
Yet it observed that the restrictions introduced to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus globally have made it quite difficult for humanitarian organisations to intervene with any degree of success.
Foreign Affairs Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide said that in response to both protracted and acute humanitarian crises, the Norwegian government had given its humanitarian efforts worldwide a historic boost.
“Since 2013, we have increased the overall humanitarian budget by 67 per cent. In 2020, we will be the sixth largest humanitarian donor in the world," she said.