UN chief urges G20 to unite on Covid-19 fight

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged 20 major industrialised nations to be united to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Ahead of the Group of 20 summit next month, Guterres, in an interview with The Associated Press published yesterday, said that he hopes the international community now understands “they need to be much more coordinated in fighting the virus.”

The UN chief expressed his frustration at leaders of the G20 nations that they didn’t come together in March and establish a coordinated response to pandemic in all countries as he proposed.

The result, he said, is every country is taking its own sometimes contradictory actions, and the virus is moving “from east to west, north to south,” with second waves of infections now affecting many countries.

Guterres said the United Nations also will be “strongly advocating” during the G-20 summit for a guarantee that when a vaccine is available, “it becomes indeed available and affordable for everyone, everywhere.”

On last Saturday, Guterres accused the divided world of failing to rise to the challenge of fighting the pandemic and warned concerted action was needed to prevent millions of people being pushed into poverty and hunger.

The former Portuguese prime minister said far more could have been done if countries had worked together to combat the disease, which has killed more than one million people.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a major global challenge for the entire international community, for multilateralism and for me, as secretary-general of the United Nations,” Guterres told Portuguese news agency Lusa.

“Unfortunately it is a test that, so far, the international community is failing.”

He said that if coordinated measures were not taken, “a microscopic virus could push millions of people into poverty and hunger, with devastating economic effects in the years to come”.

Guterres also criticised countries for a lack of unity in trying to solve other global challenges including the conflicts in Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria. “It is a source of enormous frustration,” he said.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.


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