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Development Policy Committee: A record number of people to need humanitarian assistance due to coronavirus

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In an analysis published on Tuesday 21 April 2020, the Development Policy Committee estimates that coronavirus affects the most vulnerable people in the world and can lead to record levels in the need for humanitarian assistance. The Development Policy Committee is an advisory body representing the parliamentary parties and society at large.

“The world cannot afford to see a future where the African countries’ development efforts turn into a humanitarian crisis. Europe will not be safe either if our neighbouring regions plunge into a crisis or if the virus starts to spread again. It is therefore important that we get the epidemic under control everywhere,” the Development Policy Committee emphasises.

The Committee considers that Finland should prepare for a marked increase in the need for humanitarian assistance in different parts of the world. Foresight can save a lot. Finland should immediately develop a cross-sectoral approach to coronavirus, combining humanitarian aid, development cooperation and peace work, to support especially the capacity of poor countries to be prepared for the epidemic and be able to respond to and recover from it.

The Committee warns that the spread of coronavirus may also aggravate existing humanitarian crises. Ongoing support directed to these crisis areas cannot be reduced.

“It is important that Finland continue its long-term development cooperation and look after the humanitarian operations that are currently under way. Additionally, in tandem with the spread of coronavirus, Finland and the international community must prepare for new humanitarian disasters,” says Member of Parliament Inka Hopsu, Chairperson of the Development Policy Committee.

According to Hopsu, Finland should, for example, respond to the UN’s emergency appeal and support the UN's COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan. “Increasing need for humanitarian assistance requires additional funding and flexibility. As a rule, additional funding should not be taken from other development cooperation appropriations, reserved to promote more long-term objectives. Channelling funding to fight the coronavirus crisis must not increase human suffering during existing crises or future disasters,” Hopsu notes.

According to the Development Policy Committee, it is very important that Finland participate in the UN agencies’ COVID-19 Response and Recovery Multi Partner Trust Fund, which aims, among other things, to respond to the acute health crisis and to promote social and economic recovery.

In many African countries, there is a risk that the crisis will hamper the achievement of sustainable development goals. In addition to massive impacts on health and economies, preventive measures caused by the epidemic and the virus will suspend children’s education and people with a poor living will find it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. Moreover, the crisis will increase gender inequality and instability in society.

The Committee reminds that despite this acute crisis, Finland must adhere to its long-term and systematic approach to its development policy. The current long-term priorities are important both during and after the crisis. These include the status and rights of women and girls, strengthening developing countries’ economies and jobs, education, well-functioning societies and democracy, and climate change and natural resources.  “The sustainable development goals of the UN 2030 Agenda will guide Finland’s actions also in future,” Hopsu says.

Read the Development Policy Committee’s analysis of the impacts of the coronavirus crisis at https://www.kehityspoliittinentoimikunta.fi

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The Development Policy Committee is the only body that conducts systematic and broad-based monitoring and evaluation of Finnish development cooperation and development policy. The Government appoints the Committee for each government term. Its members include representatives of parliamentary parties, advocacy organisations, NGOs and universities in the UniPID network (Finnish University Partnership for International Development)

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