Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 24 November 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus worst global crisis since Second World War, says UN chief

Worldwide deaths from Covid-19 hit close to 42,000 on Tuesday

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres looks on at the opening of the UN Human Rights Council's main annual session in Geneva.  AFP
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres looks on at the opening of the UN Human Rights Council's main annual session in Geneva.  AFP

The coronavirus pandemic is the worst global crisis since the Second World War and will bring a recession unprecedented in modern times, the UN Secretary General warned on Tuesday.

Speaking on Tuesday at the launch of a report on the socioeconomic effects of the pandemic, Antonio Guterres said there was also a risk that the crisis would cause conflict and unrest.

"The combination of the two facts and the risk that it contributes to enhanced instability, enhanced unrest, and enhanced conflict are things that make us believe that this is the most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War," Mr Guterres said.

The UN was founded at the end of the war in 1945 and has 193 member states.

"A stronger and more effective response is only possible in solidarity, if everybody comes together and if we forget political games and understand that it is humankind that is at stake," Mr Guterres said.

More than 40,000 people have been killed so far as the disease spreads across the world, and causes economic devastation.

There are more than 850,000 confirmed cases of the virus worldwide.

"We are far from having a global package to help the developing world to create the conditions both to suppress the disease and to address the dramatic consequences," Mr Guterres said.

He gave the examples of unemployment, the collapse of small companies and vulnerable people in the informal economy.

"We are slowly moving in the right direction but we need to speed up, and we need to do much more if we want to defeat the virus," Mr Guterres said.

The UN on Tuesday created a fund to help developing countries after last week appealing for donations for poor and conflict-hit nations.

Beyond traditional aid from rich countries, the world needs “innovative financial instruments" so that developing nations are able to respond to the crisis, Mr Guterres said.

He warned that the coronavirus outbreak could return from poorer countries, especially in Africa, to hit wealthy countries again, and that millions could die.

Updated: April 1, 2020 07:45 AM

THE DAILY NEWSLETTER
Sign up to our daily email