The destructive secondary impacts of COVID 19 pandemic have damaged the fabric of society and will be felt for years, if not decades, to come. Apart from this, vulnerable people have been pushed further towards the edge, according to a new report from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Further, the IFRC in the report “Drowning just below the surface: The socioeconomic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic” noted that women, people in urban areas, migrants, internally displaced people and refugees have been disproportionately affected by the devastating socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic.
IFRC President Francesco Rocca said: “Our research shows what we have long suspected and feared, namely that the destructive secondary impacts of this pandemic have damaged the fabric of our society and will be felt for years, if not decades, to come. People who were already vulnerable, due to conflict, climate-change, and poverty, have been pushed further towards the edge. And many people who were previously able to cope have become vulnerable, needing humanitarian support for the first time in their lives.”
The new research provides a global overview, with a special focus on ten countries: Afghanistan, Colombia, El Salvador, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Philippines, Spain, South Africa and Turkey. It said that women were more affected as they were employed in informal sectors or in the domestic and tourism industries.
Taking a note from a survey by the Spanish Red Cross, the report said that 18 per cent of women who were employed before the pandemic had lost their jobs, compared to 14 per cent of men.
Moreover, women were at greater risk due to care-giving roles, more exposed to sexual and gender-based violence and experienced mental health impacts to a greater degree than men experience. In urban areas, people suffered due to the nature of city-based labour, which often became untenable compared to rural work that was outdoor-based and physically distanced. It also mentioned that continued arrivals of displaced people into towns and cities placed additional pressures on urban areas. People on the move were more likely to lose jobs or have their hours cut during the pandemic and have been widely neglected by formal protection and safeguarding measures.
The IFRC also mentions four key areas to build on;
- Ensure global and equitable vaccination programme
- Long-term conditions or outcomes like poor mental health, loss of education, child marriage and increased deprivation must be addressed.
- Fairer societies must be constructed in which new forms of solidarity emerge and where efforts are invested to provide inclusive public services such as health, basic facilities and access to education
- Humanitarians must continue to recognize that COVID-19 pandemic is just one of many intersecting crises, and devise assistance programmes that build greater overall resilience in vulnerable families and communities, led by local investment and participation
NATIONAL RED CROSS
Rocca stressed that the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the globe, as frontline community responders, have been able to bridge the gaps in this response. “They have a deep knowledge of the inequalities that exist and of how they are perpetuated and are therefore among the best placed to help people to recover from the harms to their livelihoods, health and education. But to continue to do so they will need significant additional support: both financial and political,” he said.
The report also reveals that the world is on course for a wildly unequal recovery, depending on the efficacy and equity of vaccination programmes. “The world must open its eyes, take heed of what is happening around them and shift from words to action. If not, we face the risk that the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will be just as uneven and unjust as the impacts of the pandemic itself.” Rocca notes.