In the first half of 2021, protection risks continued unabated with over 200 million people impacted by conflicts and disasters. Conflict, violence, and systematic breaches of international humanitarian law remain the main of protection needs, exacerbated by COVID-19, climate change and related socio-economic shocks and food insecurity. People in conflict and disaster zones are facing a crushing coping crisis with incremental effects. With few options available to them, people are forced towards harmful practices. There has been a spike in young girls forced into marriage. A reduction in access to education has increased the risks of child labour, trafficking and recruitment, as well as violence and abuses against children. Repeated lockdowns have exacerbated tensions in the home, leading to increased violence against women and girls in particular. Most operations report an increase in mental health and psychosocial support needs. Reduced access to livelihood opportunities due to COVID-19 restrictions resulted in many of the most vulnerable people losing their incomes, unable to pay their rent, placing them at increased risk of eviction. Explosive ordnance contamination remained a risk across 20 operations.
Conflict and insecurity have continued to hamper humanitarian access, taking the lives of 59 humanitarian aid workers, mostly national staff, in the first part of 2021¹. The operational reality, including administrative and logistical constraints, has also limited the capacity to respond. For 2021, protection actors identified 200 million people in need in Humanitarian Response Plans, and requested $2.1 billion to provide life-saving protection services to 101 million people. With the current level of funds, protection actors were able to assist just one in four of the people in need of protection support. The number of people in need of protection has more than doubled since 2019, yet the funding requested to meet these needs has only slightly increased².
The COVID-19 crisis has reinforced the crucial role of local actors³ as a driving force for protection. As international organisations were forced to adopt remote ways of working, local actors remained and responded. In line with the Grand Bargain commitments, it is time to provide those actors with adequate funding and institutional support.