United Nations (UN) Secretary General António Guterres has called for debt relief for all developing and middle-income countries in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has continued to cause social and economic havoc across the globe.
Mr Guterres has said the COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed havoc in every country and every economy of the world causing the loss of two million lives with about 500 million jobs having been lost, thereby triggering extreme poverty among developing nations.
He described the year 2020 as a year of death, disaster and despair, warning that if the virus was allowed to spread like wildfire in the Global South, it would inevitably mutate and become more transmissible, deadly and resistant to vaccines.
Mr Guterres told Member States that developing countries had been drained of their remittances, tourism revenues and earnings from commodities while wealthier countries were implementing recovery and stimulus plans worth trillions of dollars.
“Economic recovery should be inclusive and sustainable because the world was not going to heal from the COVID-19 if economies of developing countries were left on life support,” He said.
The UN Secretary General said the COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed havoc on every country and economy, millions of lives have been lost including members of the UN family while the economic costs continue to mount.
He added that 500 million jobs have gone and extreme poverty is back to levels not seen in a generation while inequalities are widening. Hunger is rising again.
“We need to move from death to health; from disaster to reconstruction; from despair to hope; from business as usual to transformation,” Mr Guterres said.
He has announced the need for quick response to COVID-19 pandemic by ensuring that vaccines were made available and accessible to all countries.
Mr Guterres said while governments have a responsibility of protecting their populations, vaccines are only reaching a handful of countries while the poorest countries had almost none.
He has also put priority on making peace with nature, and urged nations to consider the year 2021 as critical year of tackling effects of climate change and promoting biodiversity.
The Secretary General also called for the tackling of the pandemic of poverty and inequality that has pushed more than 70 per cent of the world’s population into wealth inequality and gender inequality, which he said, has sparked a parallel epidemic of gender-based violence.
This is contained in a statement issued to ZANIS by First Secretary, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Zambia to the United Nations Wallen Simwaka