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UN warns COVID-19 could trigger worst downturn since Great Depression

Prime News, International, (Washington D.C), April 18:-The COVID-19 pandemic could trigger the worst downturn in the global economy since the Great Depression, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Friday (local time).

He released his warning in a policy brief, saying the pandemic-induced economic contraction is having “disastrous consequences,” including on the ability of countries — and not just low-income countries — to sustainably carry debt, Xinhua news agency reported.

The brief said both middle-income countries, with 75 percent of the world’s population and 62 percent of the world’s poor, are also highly vulnerable to a debt crisis, lost market access and capital outflows.

While in the best-case scenario, recovery in developed countries’ economies may start by the end of 2020 and then reverberate to developing countries, it is also possible that this may be the start of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, said the secretary-general.

Speaking at the virtual World Bank and International Monetary Fund spring meetings on “Mobilizing with Africa,” Guterres said that during this crisis the African Union and the African continent have shown unity and leadership — two of the most scarce commodities.

The secretary-general warned that, as with the climate crisis, the African continent could end up suffering the most from the crisis. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed spoke by video to the Group of Friends on Food Security and Nutrition.

She told them that, in the face of the current pandemic, it will not take much to tip millions of more people into food insecurity. An economic shock on the scale expected presents a real and present danger.

The Food and Agriculture Organization, the African Union and international partners have issued a joint declaration in which they support access to food and nutrition for the most vulnerable in Africa during the pandemic.

They described the food and agriculture system as an essential service that must continue to operate during periods of lockdown, curfew and other containment measures.

“We have launched a Preparedness and Response Plan which required 38 million US dollars for humanitarian, as well as social and economic recovery needs,” UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.

“This Plan has been presented to national and international partners and will be updated shortly to include the government’s needs,” he noted.

The number of deaths linked to the novel contagion reached 150,000 on Friday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

-(NAV, Inputs: Agencies)

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