United Nations, Mar 31 (efe-epa).- United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday issued a worldwide call to deal with the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic with “a large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive multilateral response amounting to at least 10 per cent of global GDP.”
Guterres said that the solidarity plan would save lives, provide universal access to vaccines, inject liquidity into the financial system and stem the hemorrhaging of unemployment amid the crisis, which he compared to World War Two.
In a telematic appearance from the UN headquarters in New York, Guterres presented his report titled “Shared responsibility, global solidarity: Responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19” in which he calls on the world’s nations to act together to address this impact and lessen the blow to the public.
The report outlines both the speed and scale of the pandemic, breaks down the severity of cases and assesses the societal and economic disruption from Covid-19, which so far has infected at least 800,000 people in 204 countries and killed more than 39,000.
“COVID-19 is the greatest test that we have faced together since the formation of the United Nations,” said Guterres. “This human crisis demands coordinated, decisive, inclusive and innovative policy action from the world’s leading economies – and maximum financial and technical support for the poorest and most vulnerable people and countries,” he added.
As he said at the recent G20 meeting, Guterres emphasized the need to create a $2 billion “fiduciary fund,” half of which would be available over the next nine months and which, in any case, would have to be reviewed as the pandemic evolves.
The UN leader noted the magnitude of the pandemic, saying that it is “spreading exponentially in many places” and asserting that “societies are in turmoil and economies are in a nose-dive.”
He said that the International Monetary Fund is reevaluating world economic growth for 2020 and 2021 in light of the crisis, adding that “we have entered a recession – as bad as or worse than in 2009.”
Currently, the International Labor Organization estimates that between 5 and 25 million people have lost their jobs amid the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic and the impact on workers’ pocketbooks is between $860 billion and $3.4 trillion.
Unesco calculates that the virus has resulted in 1.5 billion students having to temporarily remain out of school – a figure representing 87 percent of the world’s student population – and has put 60.2 million teachers and professors out of work.
Guterres said that it is essential that developed countries immediately help the less developed nations to strengthen their healthcare systems and their ability to respond so that the spread of the virus can be halted because, if that is not done, the world faces “the nightmare of the disease spreading like wildfire in the global South with millions of deaths and the prospect of the disease re-emerging where it was previously suppressed.”
“We must massively increase the resources available to the developing world by expanding the capacity of the International Monetary Fund, namely through the issuance of special drawing rights, and the other international financial institutions to rapidly inject resources into the countries that need them,” the UN chief said.
“The recovery from the COVID-19 crisis must lead to a different economy,” said Guterres. “Everything we do during and after this crisis must be with a strong focus on building more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change and the many other global challenges we face.”
“What the world needs now is solidarity. With solidarity we can defeat the virus and build a better world,” he said.