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.
Buddhist monks wearing face shields and mask to protect themselves from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) collect alms in Bangkok, Thailand. REUTERS
A man gets a shave outside closed shops during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventative measure against the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in the old quarters of New Delhi. AFP
A countdown clock shows the adjusted time remaining for the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games outside Tokyo station, in Tokyo. The postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics will open on July 23, 2021. AFP
Workers install a temporary Doctors Without Borders (MSF) 50 places shelter for homeless people suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Brussels. AFP
South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers drive in an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) in the Cape Flats area of Cape Town during a patrol to enforce the 21-day nationwide lockdown in South Africa. AFP
A hotel employee wearing a protective suit sprays disinfectant on an arriving guest, as a preventative measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus in Wuhan, China's central Hubei province, a day after travel restrictions into the city were eased following the outbreak. AFP
An aerial photo showing deserted vending stalls on the first day of a 21 day lockdown in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. AFP
Homeless people sleep in a temporary parking lot shelter at Cashman Center, with spaces marked for social distancing to help slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. REUTERS
Women wearing protective masks to prevent the new coronavirus outbreak chat with each other outside a Lego store at a re-opened commercial street in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province. AP
Members of PETA protest live markets outside the World Health Organization in Washington, DC. AFP
Men wearing protective masks sit inside a bus that will take them to a quarantine facility, amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Nizamuddin area of New Delhi, India. REUTERS
Police officers speak with prisoners after they were released on parole outside the Sabarmati Central Jail during a 21-day nationwide lockdown to slow the spreading of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ahmedabad, India. REUTERS
People are shown in social-distancing boxes at a temporary homeless shelter set up in a parking lot at Cashman Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. AFP
NHS England's Chief Executive Simon Stevens speaks with NHS staff at ExCel London, during its conversion into the temporary NHS Nightingale Hospital, comprising of two wards, each of 2,000 people, to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak, in Newham, London. REUTERS
"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