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UN humanitarian chief: Acting now to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 will save lives

22 juil 2020


A nurse and social worker leads a sensitization session on COVID-19 at a temporary shelter opened in Bamako, Mali, by UNICEF and Samusocial to support children living on the street, May 2020. Credit: UNICEF/UNI332890/Dicko

A failure to act now as part of a coordinated international response to the COVID-19 pandemic would risk rolling back advances on health, poverty, education and women’s empowerment made over the past decades around the world, the UN humanitarian chief said today at an event held by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Washington, D.C.

Speaking during an online discussion on “COVID-19’s Next Cascade of Crises & Choices Before the World’s Leaders,” the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, emphasized that the cost of inaction in response to the pandemic – the biggest international crisis the world has faced in more than 50 years – would have devastating consequences globally, particularly in the most fragile countries.

“Some countries are now finding pathways to cautious recovery, but many others are teetering on the edge of absolute disaster. And there are quite a lot of countries which are yet to get to the worst point in their dealing with the problem,” Mr. Lowcock said.

“In the world’s most fragile settings, COVID-19 is still only getting going. We are months away from the peak. If it’s not checked, the virus will be free to circle the globe, to undo decades of development, and I think to create a generation’s worth of tragic and exportable problems,” he added.

Noting that the humanitarian landscape has changed in the past four months, Mr. Lowcock stressed that the need for a coordinated international response remains essential.

“My experience is that that can only happen with U.S. leadership, and it’s more important than ever, given the very serious cascade of multiplying crises that I think lie ahead of us,” he said.

“It’s much better, and cheaper and more dignified to frontload the response to the pandemic. Acting now to mitigate the impact will save lives. It will also save money,” Mr. Lowcock added.

Also participating in the event were U.S. Congresswoman Susan Brooks and U.S. Congressman Ami Bera. The discussion was moderated by Julie Gerberding, Co-Chair of the CSIS Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security.

Read Mr. Lowcock’s remarks in full: