This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Trade in many developing countries projected to ‘nosedive’, warns UNCTAD
Trade in many developing countries is expected to take a “nosedive” in the second quarter of 2020, owing to the unprecedented effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
That’s the message from UN economists at the UN trade and development body, UNCTAD. In a new report, it showed that the value of international trade in goods has declined by about five per cent between January and March.
Bad as that is, commerce is expected to plummet further - by a staggering 27 per cent from April to the end of June.
To put it into perspective, this is even worse than the near 25 per cent contraction in world trade in the aftermath of the 2008-9 financial crisis.
COVID-19 has severely hit markets in developing and developed countries alike, continuing the bad run observed in the first quarter.
But data shows that in April, the steepest decline in exports was in poorer countries in South Asia and the Middle East.
On the other hand, East Asian and Pacific nations experienced the smallest export shock – and they have even shown signs of recovery, according to UNCTAD’s Global Trade Update.
Other key findings show that while the pandemic has caused trade in the automotive and energy sectors to collapse, trade of medical products related to COVID-19 more than doubled in April 2020.
Syrian refugees resort to ever more desperate measures to resist pandemic impact
The COVID-19 crisis has put another 200,000 Syrian refugees in need of emergency assistance in the last three months alone, UN humanitarians said on Tuesday.
In an appeal for funding to confront new challenges posed by the health emergency, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said that the Syrian conflict has already created more than 5.5 million refugees seeking shelter in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
Their situation has worsened as many have lost jobs because of pandemic lockdown measures, said spokesperson Andrej Mahecic:
“The number of vulnerable refugees who lack the basic resources to survive in exile has dramatically surged as a result of the public health emergency…We have now also seen in addition to the families that have already been identified as vulnerable, another 200,000 refugees just in this period of three months who, because of the impact needed emergency assistance.”
In Jordan, Mr. Mahecic said that only 17,000 out of 49,000 newly identified vulnerable families have received help owing to a lack of funding.
Action needed now to avoid ‘hunger pandemic’ from COVID-19 in Latin America
To Latin America now, where urgent action is needed to avoid a “hunger pandemic” caused by COVID-19, the World Food Programme (WFP) has said.
The alert comes as coronavirus infection rates continue to rise fast in the south American region, with the number of cases doubling in the last three weeks, to 1.6 million.
It follows last month’s warning from WFP that COVID-19 could push an additional 10 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean into severe food insecurity this year.
Regional Director Miguel Barreto told journalists via videoconference on Tuesday that the warning applied to countries where the agency was present, such as Colombia, Honduras and Haiti, but not Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Venezuela:
“Our projection paints a stark picture. Our region has problems related to economic and climate shocks, as well as insecurity and displacement. Another issue is that between 50 and 70 per cent of workers do so in the informal sector, making them more vulnerable now because they cannot access to work due to lockdown in most of the countries in the region.”
Several countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region have already increased social assistance to millions of people living in poverty, Mr. Barreto noted.
This additional help had made “all the difference” by allowing people “who live day-to-day to meet their basic needs without having to leave their homes and potentially come into contact with the coronavirus.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.