This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
COVID pandemic impact ‘four times worse’ on jobs than 2008 financial crisis
New UN data on the economic impact of COVID-19 has confirmed what many have been thinking: workers haven’t been hit like this in generations.
According to the International Labour Organization, ILO, people trying to earn a living suffered massively in 2020 after the coronavirus started spreading globally, early last year.
ILO Director-General Guy Ryder told journalists on Monday that the impact has been four times worse than the last major financial crisis, over a decade ago:
“This has been the most severe crisis for the world of work since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Its impact is far greater than that of the global financial crisis of 2009. When comparing with the last quarter of 2019, we now see that 8.8 per cent of global working hours were lost in the course of the year. And that is the equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs.”
These lost working hours came from reduced time at work or what ILO called “unprecedented” levels of unemployment that affected 114 million people.
The ILO said that pandemic restrictions may have accounted for the bulk of these people leaving the labour market, either because they were unable to work or because they stopped looking.
The UN body said that these massive losses resulted in an 8.3 per cent drop in global income from work, equivalent to $3.7 trillion or 4.4 per cent of the world’s economy, not taking into account cash subsidies for workers.
Sri Lanka: ‘Forced’ cremation of COVID victims’ bodies must stop
The Sri Lankan Government should end its policy of compulsorily cremating victims of COVID-19, UN human rights experts said on Monday.
In a joint appeal, Special Rapporteurs Ahmed Shaheed, Fernand de Varennes, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule and Tlaleng Mofokeng, said that the practice ran contrary to the beliefs of Muslims and other minorities.
It ran the risk of increasing prejudice, intolerance and violence, they said in a statement, insisting that no medical or scientific evidence indicated that burying the deceased, increased the risk of spreading communicable diseases such as COVID-19.
To date, more than 270 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in Sri Lanka; a significant number have come from the minority Muslim community.
All of the deceased were cremated in line with amended health guidelines for COVID-19 patients, which were issued last March.
Syrian crisis is still killing children in 2021, constitutional talks resume in Geneva
To Syria finally, where fighting has killed at least 18 children since the start of the year.
The alert, from UN Children’s Fund UNICEF, came as it issued a call for greater access to millions in need – and greater funds to provide essential aid.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement that the fast-spreading COVID-19 pandemic was making it harder for families to survive, let alone provide “even basic education and protection for their children”.
In addition to the threat of violence, poverty and severe weather were adding to problems caused by fuel shortages, mounting food prices, a lack of basic services and destroyed water networks.
In Geneva, meanwhile, talks resumed on Monday on a new constitution for the war-torn country, after nearly a decade of conflict.
Ahead of discussions between Syrian delegates that are scheduled to last all week, UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen said that although the last 10 months have been the calmest in almost a decade of conflict in Syria, frontlines have barely shifted and the situation could break down at any moment.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.