Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres attends a meeting. File photo
The United Nations secretary-general is warning that the coronavirus pandemic threatens Africa’s progress and could push millions into extreme poverty.
Antonio Guterres said in a video message Wednesday launching a policy briefing on "The Impact of COVID-19 in Africa” that countries on the continent have responded swiftly to the crisis, "and as of now reported cases are lower than feared,” with more than 2,500 deaths.
But the UN chief said "much hangs in the balance,” and he called for "international action to strengthen Africa’s health systems, maintain food supplies, avoid a financial crisis, support education, protect jobs, keep households and businesses afloat, and cushion the continent against lost income and export earnings.”
To help address the devastating economic and social consequences of the pandemic, Guterres said Africa needs more than $200 billion and "an across-the-board debt standstill for African countries.”
He said in recent years economic growth in Africa has been strong, the digital revolution "has taken hold” and agreement has been reached on a free trade area.
But Guterres said "already, demand for Africa’s commodities, tourism and remittances are declining” and "the opening of the trade zone has been pushed back.”
And the secretary-general said the pandemic "will aggravate long-standing inequalities and heighten hunger, malnutrition and vulnerability to disease.”Associated Press
The last council meeting in the headquarters complex was on March 12, when a resolution was adopted extending the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan and welcoming "encouraging developments” toward peace.
With at least 109,300 people dying worldwide from the coronavirus in 193 countries and territories, the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on nations and joint global combat measures remain the only way forward.
Guterres, who called for a cease-fire for all global conflicts on March 23, said the crisis has "hindered international, regional and national conflict resolution efforts, exactly when they are needed most.”
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the pandemic is revealing the extent to which people are marginalized and is intensifying the inequalities that people with disabilities already face, such as poverty and higher rates of violence, neglect and abuse.
The dramatic performance ‘Seeds of the Union’ was broadcast live from Abu Dhabi at 6:15 pm. The show took the form of a moving sculpture surrounded by sea and illuminated by visuals portraying themes inspired by UAE history and values.
Global Village in Dubai sets off a massive fireworks display for its guests and Dubai residents on the occasion of the 49th UAE National Day on Wednesday night.
To mark its 49th National Day, the UAE launched the surveillance satellite Falcon Eye into space from the French Guiana Space Centre, in South America, at 5:33am UAE time (01:33 GMT).
The department of health said in a statement, “The government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine for use."