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Coronavirus: UN warns of lack of solidarity with developing world

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres   -   Copyright  AP
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The Secretary-General of the United Nations has warned 500 million people could fall into poverty as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, as he warned of a “lack of sufficient solidarity” with the developing world.

António Guterres said the tools to deal with the virus “must be available to everyone, everywhere”, as he called for a global relief package amounting to at least 10 percent of the global economy.

“I am particularly worried about the lack of sufficient solidarity with developing countries - both in equipping them to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, which risks spreading like wildfire, and to address the dramatic economic and social impacts,” he said.

Worldwide there are currently around 3.3 million cases confirmed, and more than 233,000 deaths.

Earlier this week the UN’s humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said a $90 billion package could provide income support, food and a health response to the pandemic for 700 million of the world’s most vulnerable people. This would amount to 1 percent of the $8 trillion stimulus package the 20 richest countries have put in place to safeguard the global economy, he said.

Lowcock said around two-thirds of this amount could come from institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

And the UN has already launched a $2 billion appeal for vulnerable and conflict-torn countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and South America. That appeal has received a little over $1 billion in one month.

At a press conference on Thursday night, Guterres called for further support from developed nations, as he said: "Millions of children are in danger of missing life-saving vaccines. Remittances are in sharp decline, as are flows of foreign direct investment. Poverty could rise by 500 million people – the first increase in three decades.

"I continue to advocate a global relief package amounting to a double-digit percentage of the global economy – which means at least 10 per cent.

"Most developed countries can do this with their own resources, and some are doing it. But developing countries need massive and urgent support."