The world’s biggest coronavirus lockdown has been extended — leaving more than a billion people in India on the edge of survival amid fears of mass starvation, according to mission agency Gospel for Asia (GFA World, www.gfa.org).
Last week Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended the strict nationwide lockdown until May 3, essentially placing India’s 1.3 billion people — one out of every six people in the world — under stay-at-home orders. The latest order means the entire nation — soon to overtake China as the world’s most populous — faces a six-week shutdown in total.
GFA World reports that the lockdown, which began March 24, bans all non-essential activities and has brought the economies of several southeast Asia nations to a grinding halt, instantly plunging hundreds of millions of families into fear and chaos.
At the grassroots level, millions of furloughed day laborers and agricultural workers — the backbone of the workforce — face the grim threat of starvation.
Nations ‘In God’s Hands’
According to GFA World in southeast Asia, hundreds of millions of children are especially at risk, as the lockdown paralyzes entire nations. Huge numbers of street children — estimated at 70,000-plus in Delhi, India, alone — have no one to beg from and no one to turn to.
“When a crisis hits, the children are always hit the hardest,” said Yohannan, whose Texas-based organization directly supports and feeds more than 70,000 children in southeast Asia. “Right now, we’re working alongside the government in India to do all we can to bring relief to the most needy.”
Immediate relief includes “food-to-go” bags, like those distributed by church workers in a community where the local brick factory has shut down, putting everyone out of work.
In one community, teams have been working with local authorities to feed 500 people a day, and elsewhere teams have been taking food to people living in the open, who’ve been reduced to begging.
“Unlike many in the West, the poor in southeast Asia do not have a social safety net or stimulus checks to fall back on,” said Yohannan.
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SOURCE: Assist News Service, Peter Wooding