Growing international locations affected by a "disaster" of the coronavirus

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A Christian Aid employee hands a bag of essentials to a Rohingya refugee at Cox’s Bazar Camp in Bangladesh.(Photo: Christian Aid)

A new Christian Aid report warns of a global "catastrophe" as the economic, social, and political impact of Covid-19 continues to unfold around the world.

The report "Dismantling with Justice" calls for a one-year moratorium on debt repayment to poor countries after the pandemic exposed "deep inequalities".

While rich countries like Germany and Italy spent over 30% of GDP on economic stabilization, Malawi, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo only spent 1%.

The report describes the struggles in other parts of the world, including Afghanistan, where wheat prices rose 20% during the pandemic and caused food shortages, and India, where 80 million migrant workers were starved and lost after losing their jobs in the United States Cities are at risk of homelessness.

Elsewhere in the report, Christian Aid warns that in many countries, generalized health disruption can "cause more deaths than the virus itself".

At the same time, poor disinfection makes it difficult for people in many poorer countries to protect themselves from Covid-19. Around 40% of the world's population – around 3 billion people – live without access to basic hand washing facilities.

In the long term, Christian Aid fears the impact on education. Around 90% of students worldwide have lost at least part of their schooling during the pandemic. Some girls, it was said, never return to the classroom.

"Experience from the West African Ebola epidemic shows that school closures have led to a higher rate of permanent dropouts among girls and increased child labor, neglect, sexual abuse, teenage pregnancies and early marriage," the report said.

The aid agency said a 12-month debt and interest payment could "be one of the fastest ways to free up resources for some of the countries worst affected by the pandemic and its economic impact."

"Without immediate and decisive action, a crisis in the poorest countries threatens to escalate into a catastrophe that causes immense human suffering, exacerbates inequalities and slows down any recovery," said Christian Aid.

Patrick Watt, director of the organization's policy, public affairs and campaigning, said: "The richer countries have injected massive sums of money to support their economy, while the poorer countries have been crippled by huge debts that are still not being canceled.

"It is grossly unfair and extraordinarily short-sighted.

"If the richest countries do not take action and support a comprehensive response and recovery plan that includes debt relief, the current crisis will lead to a catastrophic repeat of the lost decade that Africa and Latin America experienced in the 1980s."

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