This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
COVID-19: impact could see 195 million job losses, warns UN labour agency chief
The intensifying economic effects of COVID-19 on the world of work could see nearly 200 million job losses in the next three months alone, the UN labour agency said.
The assessment follows last month’s warning from the International Labour Organization (ILO) that 25 million jobs were threatened by the new coronavirus.
According to the ILO, the latest dire assessment reflects the full or partial lockdown measures affecting almost 2.7 billion workers – four in five of the world’s workforce.
Concerns are also growing for around two billion people who work informally, most of them in emerging and developing countries.
“Hundreds of millions” of these informal workers have already been affected by COVID-19, especially in urban areas where they “carry a high risk of virus infection”, ILO said.
This includes Brazil and Nigeria and India, where almost 90 per cent of people work in the informal economy, and where about 400 million workers in the economy now face falling into greater poverty.
More than 10,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Africa
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the number of COVID-19 cases in Africa has risen to more than 10,000 and claimed more than 500 lives.
The virus was slow to reach the continent compared to other parts of the world, but infection has grown exponentially in recent weeks and continues to spread, the UN health agency said.
Africa’s first case of new coronavirus was recorded in Egypt on 14 February.
Since then a total of 52 African countries have reported cases and “a significant number” have reported cases in multiple provinces.
“COVID-19 has the potential not only to cause thousands of deaths, but to also unleash economic and social devastation”, said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa.
She’s called for communities to be empowered by local authorities, and for provincial and district levels of government to ensure that they have the resources and expertise to respond to outbreaks.
To help combat the virus, WHO is working with governments across Africa to boost surveillance, testing, isolation, contact tracing, infection prevention and control, risk communication and community engagement.
The UN agency reported that so far, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Nigeria have expanded national testing to multiple labs, allowing for decentralized testing.
Rights experts warn over South Sudan COVID-19 spread
Staying with Africa, confirmation earlier this week that the new coronavirus pandemic has reached South Sudan has prompted UN-appointed human rights experts to renew their call for an end to fighting there.
In an appeal to the authorities to step up efforts to contain the spread of the virus, the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan warned that one and a half million people who’ve fled years of violence are at greater risk than ever.
Commission chair Yasmin Sooka said that it was unrealistic to even “talk about strict social distancing” at the moment.
So many displaced persons still live in tents, she said, “often inches apart from one other, and subsisting on rapidly diminishing humanitarian aid”.
They have only limited access to healthcare, water, hygiene and sanitation, food, and adequate housing, with women and children among the worst affected by these shortages, Ms Sooka explained.
To halt the spread of the virus, the independent experts - who report to the Human Rights Council - urged the new Transitional Government of National Unity to quell intercommunal violence.
They should demonstrate “resolute leadership” by involving local communities in the public health response and encourage a shared national identity, the UN panel said.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.