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World News

Nearly 80% displaced people have lost job, income due to virus - survey

FILE PHOTO: A girl stands outside a tent at a temporary camp for newly arrived refugees and migrants, where coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases were detected, on the island of Lesbos, Greece, May 13, 2020. REUTERS/Elias Marcou/File Photo

OSLO (Reuters) - Some 77% of people displaced by conflicts have lost a job or revenue since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, a survey by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) showed on Monday.

A record 79.5 million people worldwide, or 1% of humanity, were displaced at the end of 2019 after fleeing wars or persecution, according to the United Nations.

The NRC, a non-governmental organisation, polled 1,431 refugees and internally displaced people across 14 countries including Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Kenya Libya, Mali, Uganda and Venezuela.

Some 70% of those surveyed said they had to cut the number of meals for their households and 73% said they were less likely to send their children to school due to economic problems.

“The price of food has doubled. We have to collect scraps to feed our children,” said Shayista Gul, 60, who lives in a two-room makeshift home together with 15 others outside Kabul in Afghanistan.

“If the coronavirus does not kill us, hunger definitely will,” she is quoted as saying by the NRC in its report.

The pandemic has led to an economic downturn affecting the most vulnerable populations, including refugees and internally displaced people, pushing them into a “dangerous downward spiral”, the NRC said.

“Already forced from their homes by violence, often with limited rights to work or access to government services, the economic impact of the pandemic is pushing them to catastrophe,” Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the NRC, said in a statement.

Reporting by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Toby Chopra

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