Insurgency: Solution To Crisis Is Peace, Not Military Interventions Alone, Says UN

A file photo of UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon. Photo: [email protected]

 

 

 

Amid the insurgency in the northeast and security challenges in other parts of the country, the United Nations has sued for peace.

United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, said military interventions and humanitarian efforts alone will not solve the conflict.

Kallon disclosed this on Monday when leading a UN delegation on a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

The UN Coordinator also called for dialogue and a more robust framework to tackle the problem.

While commending President Buhari for his administration’s efforts in fighting corruption, he called for the strengthening of institutions as a final solution to the issue of corruption.

READ ALSO: UNILAG Senate Elects Professor Folasade Ogunsola As Acting VC

According to the UN delegation, the Nigerian government should take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to improve the health sector

The delegation says the virus has impacted negatively on the routine immunization exercise across the country.

The meeting is being held on the heels that Nigeria will be polio free by Tuesday.

The delegation is five of the 19 UN agencies which make up the UN country team in Nigeria.

Earlier, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Nigeria announced the progress made by the nation via its verified Twitter handle on June 19.

It described the development as historic for Nigeria, the African continent, and the Global Polio Programme in general.

This comes as the Federal Government through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) confirmed the success recorded.

The Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said in a tweet that it was a proud moment for the people of Nigeria when they defended the complete documentation at a virtual meeting of African Regional Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication (ARCC).

Shuaib explained that at the meeting, the Nigeria team which comprised the NPHCDA and partners demonstrated evidence of the country’s polio-free status.

According to him, the presentation was accepted by the commission and the official announcement will be made at a meeting of Ministers of Health scheduled for July.

UN In Libya Urges Probe After Violence At Protest

(FILES) In this file photo, The United Nations flag is seen during the Climate Action Summit 2019 at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on September 23, 2019, in New York City. Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

 

The UN mission to Libya on Monday urged the Government of National Accord (GNA) to conduct an “immediate and thorough investigation” after violence at a protest in Tripoli a day earlier.

Hundreds gathered in the capital on Sunday evening to protest deteriorating living conditions and denounce corruption in the war-torn country, before security personnel fired into the air to disperse them, witnesses said.

“UNSMIL calls for an immediate and thorough investigation into the excessive use of force by pro-GNA security personnel in Tripoli yesterday which resulted in the injury of a number of protesters,” the UN mission said in a statement, without specifying how many people were wounded.

Videos and photographs circulating on social media showed men in military attire aiming their guns towards protesters in one of the capital’s streets.

Ayman al-Wafi, a young man in his twenties who attended the protest, told AFP that demonstrators had left Tripoli’s Martyrs’ Square after “security forces started firing in the air”.

Angered by chronic water, power, and petrol shortages in a country with Africa’s largest proven crude oil reserves, the mostly young people had marched through the city centre chanting slogans including “No to corruption!”

Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha called those responsible for the violence “outlaws who infiltrated the security forces” supervising the protest.

The interior ministry on Sunday evening said in a statement that the men “do not belong to the security forces” and would be arrested.

Libya has endured almost a decade of violent chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

The country is plagued by water shortages and power blackouts that snuff out air-conditioners in the searing summer heat.

The situation has been compounded by the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has spread in the country despite social distancing measures.

Considering “the continuing immiseration of the Libyan people and the ever-present threat of renewed conflict, it is past time for Libyan leaders to put aside their differences and engage in a fully inclusive political dialogue,” the UN mission said.

The protest came just two days after the country’s warring rival administrations announced separately that they would cease all hostilities and hold nationwide elections.

AFP

Syria Constitution Talks Under Way At UN

 

Members of Syria’s Constitutional Committee, tasked with amending their war-torn country’s constitution, met at the UN in Geneva on Monday for the first time since a failed attempt at talks last November.

Delegations from President Bashar al-Assad’s government, the opposition and civil society arrived at the United Nations in separate minivans, with all delegates wearing facemasks, to start a week of discussions.

Ahmad Al-Kuzbari, who is heading the government delegation, and Hadi Al-Bahra, leading up the opposition, both waved as they entered the building but delegates did not speak to reporters.

A UN spokeswoman confirmed shortly before noon that the week-long session had begun.

UN special envoy for Syria Gail Pedersen said Sunday he had met with co-chairs of the government and opposition delegations and with civil society representatives over the weekend.

“I am looking forward to a week of substantial discussions on the agenda and moving the process forward,” the Norwegian diplomat said on Twitter.

The full constitutional review committee is made up of 150 delegates divided equally three ways into government, opposition and civil society groups.

But only 15 members from each of those groups were due to take part in this week’s small-scale meeting.

The Constitutional Committee was created in September last year and first convened a month later.

A second round of talks, planned for late November, never got going after disagreement on the agenda prevented government and opposition negotiators from meeting.

Since then talks have been delayed by the coronavirus crisis.

The UN has been striving for more than nine years to try to help find a political resolution to Syria’s civil war, which has killed more than 380,000 people and has displaced more than 11 million.

Constitutional review is a central part of the UN’s peace plan for Syria, which was defined by Security Council resolution 2254, adopted in December 2015.

Pedersen on Friday stressed the urgent need to build confidence between the parties.

He told reporters nobody expected “a miracle or a breakthrough”; rather the meeting is about looking towards identifying areas where progress might be made.

AFP

Pompeo To Visit UN To Trigger Iran Sanctions ‘Snapback’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama(not shown) deliver statements to the press, at the Department of State on February 4, 2020 in Washington,DC. Eric BARADAT / AFP.

 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo travels to the UN Thursday to activate a controversial mechanism aimed at reimposing international sanctions on Iran, in a disputed move that threatens the Iranian nuclear deal.

Pompeo will tell the Security Council president, currently Indonesia, at a 2:00 pm (1600 GMT) meeting that the US is triggering the so-called “snapback” procedure, which its European allies are set to contest.

The move widens the gulf between the US and the other permanent members of the Security Council on Iran policy that began when President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear accord with Tehran in 2018.

The procedure, never before used, comes after the US suffered a humiliating defeat at the Security Council last week when it failed to muster support for a resolution to extend a conventional arms embargo on Iran.

Snapback aims to restore all international sanctions against Iran that were lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran in exchange for it agreeing not to develop nuclear weapons.

But it also threatens to torpedo that historic deal, which Britain, France and Germany — along with Russia and China — are trying to save.

A Security Council resolution ratifying the accord, which was negotiated by former president Barack Obama, says participating states can unilaterally reinstall sanctions if Iran has failed to significantly comply with the accord.

The snapback procedure is supposed to lead to the re-establishment of sanctions after 30 days, without the possibility of any members, namely Russia and China, wielding their vetoes.

European countries on the Security Council say the US gave up their right as a participant when Trump pulled out of the deal in May 2018 and reimposed American sanctions as part of his “maximum pressure” campaign against the Iranian regime.

Experts say the snapback threatens to plunge the Security Council into crisis and raise questions about the legitimacy of its resolutions.

They foresee a situation where the United States acts as if the sanctions have been reimposed and the rest of the Council continues as before.

Pompeo will also discuss the move with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at Guterres’ residence in New York during a meeting at 2:30 pm.

America’s top diplomat is then due to brief press at the UN at 3:30 pm.

AFP

UN Says Half Of Its Yemen Aid Programmes Hit By Lack Of Funds

(FILES) In this file photo, The United Nations flag is seen during the Climate Action Summit 2019 at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on September 23, 2019, in New York City. Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

 

The United Nations said Wednesday it has been forced to close or severely cut back half of its major programmes in Yemen to tackle the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

“We have a moral obligation to warn the world that millions of Yemenis will suffer and could die because we don’t have the funding we need to keep going,” said the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Lisa Grande.

Grande said UN programmes in Yemen had had a “real impact”, preventing large-scale famine, rolling back the worst cholera epidemic in modern history and providing help to millions of displaced people, and she appealed to donors to provide the funds to keep them going.

Five years of war between pro-Iran rebels and a Saudi-led coalition which intervened to shore up the beleaguered government have left nearly 80 percent of Yemenis — more than 24 million people — dependent on some form of humanitarian aid.

A Yemen aid conference held in Riyadh on June 2 saw donors pledge only $1.35 billion of the $2.41 billion needed to cover essential humanitarian activities until the end of the year, leaving a gap of more than $1 billion.

Saudi Arabia, a key player in the conflict, emerged as the biggest donor, pledging an aid package worth $500 million.

The UN said the impact of underfunding had been dramatic, against what it has termed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

In April, food rations for more than eight million people in northern Yemen were halved and humanitarian agencies were forced to stop reproductive health services in 140 facilities.

Health services were cut or reduced in a further 275 specialised centres for treating people with cholera and other infectious diseases.

Allowances to nearly 10,000 frontline health workers were stopped and the supplies needed to treat trauma patients, who will almost certainly die without immediate treatment, were halted.

If funding is not urgently received within weeks, medicines and essential supplies for 189 hospitals and 2,500 clinics, representing half of the health facilities in Yemen, will halt just as the world does battle with the coronavirus pandemic.

International medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has warned that Yemen faces a “catastrophe” from the disease.

The UN says COVID-19 has likely already spread throughout most of Yemen, even though less than 2,000 cases, including 537 deaths, have been recorded.

AFP

UN Expert Urges States To Ban Evictions Amid Pandemic

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 04, 2018 The “Palais des Nations”, which houses the United Nations Offices, is seen at the end of the flag-lined front lawn in Geneva. – The United Nations said on June 18, 2020, it was resuming resettlement travel for refugees, which was suspended in March due to the coronavirus crisis, delaying departures for some 10,000 refugees. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

 

A UN rights expert called Tuesday for governments to ban evictions until the COVID-19 pandemic ends, warning the number of people being expelled from their homes was rising globally.

Warning of an impending “tsunami” of evictions, Balakrishnan Rajagopal, the United Nations’ top expert on the right to housing, stressed that “losing your home during this pandemic could mean losing your life”.

The independent expert, who is appointed by the UN but does not speak on its behalf, stressed that “the right to housing is central to any response to the pandemic”.

“But now we are seeing an acceleration in evictions and home demolitions.”

Rajagopal said that while some governments have implemented temporary bans on forced evictions, many people are continuing to lose their homes.

He pointed for instance to Kenya where more than 8,000 people were forcibly ejected from their homes in a single day in May, and Brazil where more than 2,000 families have been evicted amid the pandemic.

But he emphasised that the danger was global.

“Temporary bans in many countries have ended or are coming to an end, and this raises serious concerns that a tsunami of evictions may follow,” he warned.

“Governments must not allow people to become homeless during this pandemic because they lose their job and cannot pay their rent or mortgage.”

His comments came as activists and relief groups in the United States — the country hardest hit in the pandemic — scramble to avert seeing millions pushed into homelessness.

The Aspen Institute has estimated that more than 40 million people in the country could be at risk of eviction in coming months.

“Forced evictions are an outrageous violation of human rights,” Rajagopal said.

AFP

27 Dead In Mauritania Migrant Boat Disaster – UN

(FILES) In this file photograph taken on September 5, 2018, Palestinian school children raise the victory gesture over a UN flag during a protest at a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school, financed by US aid, in the Arroub refugee camp near Hebron in the occupied West Bank. HAZEM BADER / AFP.

 

Twenty-seven people died after the engines on their migrant vessel failed, leaving them stranded off the coast of Mauritania, the United Nations said on Friday.

The UN’s refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a joint statement that they were “deeply saddened at the tragic death of 27 people”.

A boat en route towards Spain’s Canary Islands ran into engine trouble between the northern Mauritanian city of Nouadhibou and the city of Dakhla in Western Sahara, according to the statement.

“Those on board were left stranded at sea and began suffering from extreme dehydration,” it added.

The incident occurred “some days ago,” the UN said, although the exact date remains unclear.

Mauritanian coastguards rescued a lone survivor, a Guinean man, near Nouadhibou on Thursday.

He initially said that he had been travelling with about 40 other people — all of whom leapt into the sea when help failed to arrive.

He later clarified that there had been 28 people on board, according to the UN refugee agency’s Africa spokesman, Charlie Yaxley.

Migrants have increasingly opted to risk the perilous route from West Africa to the Canary Islands in recent years, as authorities have clamped down on crossings from Libya to Europe.

The Atlantic route is especially dangerous as shoddy migrant vessels have to ply the ocean in order to reach the Spanish islands.

At least 170 people are known to have died trying to reach the Canary Islands in 2019, according to the IOM, compared to 43 the previous year.

“These deaths are preventable, and they are avoidable,” Vincent Cochetel, the UN refugee agency’s special envoy for the central Mediterranean, said in the statement.

“We must take action to target the smugglers and traffickers who offer false promises to migrants and refugees of safe passage to Europe.”

AFP

UN Experts Demand Beirut Explosion Probe

(FILES) In this file photograph taken on September 5, 2018, Palestinian school children raise the victory gesture over a UN flag during a protest at a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school, financed by US aid, in the Arroub refugee camp near Hebron in the occupied West Bank. HAZEM BADER / AFP.

 

UN human rights experts on Thursday demanded a swift, independent investigation into the catastrophic Beirut explosion, citing deep concern about irresponsibility and impunity in Lebanon.

The group also called for a relatively-rare special debate at the United Nations Human Rights Council this September.

UN experts do not speak for the United Nations but report their findings to it.

Lebanon’s president has rejected any international probe into the Beirut port blast, as demanded by protesters.

“We support calls for a prompt, impartial, credible and independent investigation based on human rights principles, to examine all claims, concerns and needs in relation to the explosion as well as the underlying human rights failures,” some 38 UN experts said in a joint statement.

The investigation should have a broad mandate to probe “any systemic failures of the Lebanese authorities and institutions to protect human rights”.

“We are deeply concerned about the level of irresponsibility and impunity surrounding human and environmental devastation on this scale,” they said.

The investigation should protect the confidentiality of victims and witnesses, and its findings should be made public, the experts said.

AFP

South Africa’s COVID-19 Cases Top 500,000

An undertaker wearing a protective suit and a face shield and relatives escort the coffin containing the remains of a COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) victim during a funeral proceeding at a funeral house in Johannesburg, on July 26, 2020. Michele Spatari / AFP

 

The UN health agency warned that the coronavirus pandemic would be lengthy and could lead to “response fatigue”, as the case count in South Africa topped half a million.

Six months after the World Health Organization declared a global emergency, the novel coronavirus has killed more than 680,000 people and infected more than 17.5 million, according to an AFP tally.

South Africa is by far the hardest-hit country in Africa, accounting for more than half of diagnosed infections, although President Cyril Ramaphosa said the fatality rate is lower than the global average.

Health authorities had been expecting a surge in cases after the gradual loosening of a strict lockdown that was imposed at the end of March.

Nigeria on Saturday also announced it would ease a lockdown in the commercial capital Lagos, allowing churches and mosques to reopen next week.

An emergency WHO committee reviewing the pandemic “highlighted the anticipated lengthy duration of this COVID-19 outbreak, noting the importance of sustained community, national, regional, and global response efforts”.

“WHO continues to assess the global risk level of COVID-19 to be very high,” it said in its latest statement.

The agency also said the effects of the pandemic “will be felt for decades to come”.

Mexico overtook Britain to become the third hardest-hit country in virus deaths — after Brazil and the United States — with more than 46,600 fatal cases.

Although many Latin American countries have begun relaxing stay-at-home measures, the virus is still spreading quickly across much of the region, which has now recorded more than four million cases and almost 200,000 deaths.

Half of them are in Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro said he believes “nearly everyone” will catch the virus eventually, after himself recovering from it.

The US, the hardest-hit country in the world, has now tallied more than 4.6 million cases and 154,319 deaths.

 Vaccine race 

The outlook was bleak in Asia as well, where India and the Philippines reported record increases in new daily infections.

“We are waging a losing battle against COVID-19, and we need to draw up a consolidated, definitive plan of action,” said an open letter signed by 80 Filipino medical associations.

Japan’s Okinawa declared a state of emergency after a record jump in cases on the islands — many linked to US military forces stationed there.

The pandemic has spurred a race for a vaccine with several Chinese companies at the forefront, while Russia has set a target date of September to roll out its own medicine.

However, US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said it was unlikely his country would use any vaccine developed in either nation.

“I do hope that the Chinese and the Russians are actually testing the vaccine before they are administering the vaccine to anyone,” he said.

As part of its “Operation Warp Speed”, the US government will pay pharmaceutical giants Sanofi and GSK up to $2.1 billion for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, the companies said.

 ‘Day of freedom’ 

France, Spain, Portugal and Italy all reported huge contractions in their economies for the April-June quarter, while Europe as a whole saw gross domestic product fall by 12.1 per cent.

Daily case numbers in Switzerland have crept up again in recent weeks, while Norway recorded its first virus death in two weeks.

At least 36 crew members confined to a Norwegian cruise ship have tested positive for the new coronavirus, the operator Hurtigruten said on Saturday.

Despite the resurgence in cases, there have been demonstrations in Europe against the curbs.

Thousands protested in Berlin on Saturday urging “a day of freedom” from the restrictions, with some demonstrators dubbing the pandemic “the biggest conspiracy theory”.

In South Korea, the elderly leader of a secretive sect at the centre of the country’s early coronavirus outbreak was arrested for allegedly hindering the government’s effort to contain the epidemic.

People linked to Lee Man-hee’s Shincheonji Church of Jesus accounted for more than half of the South’s coronavirus cases in February and March, but the country has since appeared to have brought the virus under control.

The pandemic has also continued to cause mayhem in the travel and tourism sectors, with more airlines announcing mass job cuts.

Latin America’s biggest airline, the Brazilian-Chilean group LATAM, said it would lay off least 2,700 crew, and British Airways pilots overwhelmingly voted to accept a deal cutting wages by 20 percent, with 270 jobs lost.

Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation Donates $1 Million To Help Fight COVID-19 In Nigeria

A health worker takes a swab from a woman during a community COVID-19 coronavirus testing campaign in Abuja on April 15, 2020. The Nigerian government commence search and sample collections of eligible cases as they struggle to contain the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic as cases rise in Nigeria amidst lockdown.
Kola Sulaimon / AFP

 

 

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated one million dollars to help in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.

The fund was received on Tuesday by the UN Finance support platform, One UN COVID-19 Response Basket Fund.

According to the United Nations Development Programme, it is aimed at supporting the country’s response in the management of the crisis and the realities of post-crisis, particularly in the protection of vulnerable persons.

The UNDP Representative in Nigeria, Mohamed Yahya, said in a statement that as a COVID-19 response financing and investment platform, the One UN Response Basket Fund provides a timely opportunity to stand with Nigeria and channel financial contributions toward the COVID-19 multi-sectoral response.

 

A health worker helps his colleague with his PPE during a community testing in Abuja on April 15, 2020, as authorities race to contain the spread of COVID-19. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

 

About the Nigeria One UN COVID-19 Response

On 6 April 2020, The UN in collaboration with the Government of Nigeria launched the One UN COVID-19 Response Basket Fund. The Basket Fund serves as the One COVID-19 Financing and Investment Platform, through which different stakeholders (including UN, other multilateral and bilateral donors, as well as private sector donors, foundations and philanthropists) can channel their financial support to the multi-sectoral efforts of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Response.

As of June 2020, the Basket Fund, managed by UNDP has mobilised US$61.3 million, including US$54.6 million from the European Union (EU); US$2.2 million from UN agencies; $US4 million from the private sector (Dangote US$ 3.8 million and AP Maersk US$ 0.2 million); and US$0.4 million from the Government of Switzerland.

The overall management of the One UN COVID-19 Response Basket Fund is led and coordinated by the Project Board. The Project Board has representation from the Presidential Task Force; Federal Ministry of Health, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), relevant Government departments, fund contributing donors and the UN.

World Hunger Worsening As COVID-19 Weighs, Obesity Rises – UN

A photo of the United Nations emblem
A photo of the United Nations emblem

 

Nearly one in nine people in the world are going hungry, with the coronavirus pandemic exacerbating already worsening trends this year, according to a United Nations report published on Monday.

Economic slowdowns and climate-related shocks are pushing more people into hunger, while nutritious foods remain too expensive for many, contributing not only to undernourishment but to growing rates of obesity in adults and children.

“After decades of a long decline, the number of people suffering from hunger has been slowly increasing since 2014,” said the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World annual report.

Not only did people need enough food, but nutritious food, the study said, citing costly “health and environmental consequences” of sub-par diets.

Nearly 690 million people, or 8.9 percent of people around the globe, are hungry, the UN found.

That number rose by 10 million people in just one year to 2019, and by 60 million in the past five years, found the study, which said eradicating hunger by 2030 – a goal set five years ago – will be impossible if trends continue.

By 2030, over 890 million people could be affected by hunger or 9.8 percent of the world’s population, it estimated and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Last year, the report estimated that over 820 million people were going hungry, but estimates were recalculated following revised data from China for prior years.

– More undernourished people –
When measuring both moderate and severe food insecurity in 2019, the number balloons from 690 million to 2 billion people without “regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food”.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit hard in nations with widespread poverty, could cause another 83 to 132 million people to become undernourished this year, the report said.

Global trends had already been worsening before coronavirus, it said.

About a quarter of Africa’s population could go hungry by 2030 from 19.1 percent today, already twice the world average.

In Asia, the number of hungry people fell by 8 million people since 2015, although the continent remains home to more than half the world’s undernourished people.

Trends in Latin America and the Caribbean are worsening, with 9 million more hungry people last year than in 2015.

– Too expensive –
“A key reason why millions of people around the world suffer from hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition is that they cannot afford the cost of healthy diets,” found the report.

In all regions, adult obesity is on the rise, with healthy diets of fruits, vegetables and protein-rich foods unaffordable to some 3 billion people.

Over 57 percent of people in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia cannot afford a healthy diet.

Low-income countries rely on starchy staples like cereals and tubers that can cost 60 percent less than healthy diets but lack necessary proteins and key vitamins and minerals to reduce infections and ward off disease.

The report found 21.3 percent of children under five, or 144 million, experienced stunted growth due to malnutrition, most of them in Africa or Asia.

Another 6.9 percent were “wasted” with nutritional imbalances, while 5.6 percent were overweight.

Of the overweight children, 45 percent come from Asia, and 24 percent from Africa, underscoring how malnutrition takes the form of both undernutrition and obesity.

Current patterns in food consumption are estimated to result in health costs of over $1.3 trillion per year by 2030.

But healthier diets could lower those costs by up to 97 percent, the report estimated, citing a vegetarian diet with associated health costs of less than $100 million.

Costs are also associated with greenhouse gas emissions caused by today’s food production system which could also be reduced by alternative diets.

While acknowledging high prices for healthy food are due to a variety of factors from insufficient diversification and inadequate food storage to domestic subsidies that favor staples, the report called an “urgent rebalancing of agricultural policies and incentives.”

COVID-19 May Push 45m People In Latin America Into Poverty – UN

A photo of the United Nations emblem
A file photo of the United Nations emblem

 

 

The COVID-19 pandemic could push 45 million people from the middle classes into poverty in already economically troubled Latin America and the Caribbean, the United Nations said on Thursday.

“In a context of already gaping inequalities, high levels of informal labor and fragmented health services, the most vulnerable populations and individuals are once again being hit the hardest,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement.

The hard-hit region has registered more than three million cases of the novel coronavirus, more than half of them in Brazil, according to an AFP tally based on official sources.

Mexico, Peru and Chile have also been hard-hit.

Guterres said the region could see a stunning 9.1 percent drop in GDP, the worst in a century.

The devastating impact is being magnified, the UN said, because it follows seven years of weak growth and hits countries where millions lack adequate healthcare or easy access to potable water.

The world organization foresees a seven percent rise in the poverty rate this year, adding 45 million to the ranks of the poor, for a regionwide total of 230 million, more than one-third the total population there.

The UN also predicted a 4.5 percent rise in extreme poverty, those threatened with hunger.

The UN urged countries to provide an emergency basic income — averaging $140 a month per person — plus food subsidies for those in need.

Guterres also called on the international community to provide financial aid, help ensure the region’s liquidity and provide debt relief.

AFP