On 3 April 2020, the United Nations General Assembly by its Resolution A/Res/74270 reaffirmed its strong support for the central role of the United Nations system in the global response to the COVID19 pandemic.1 On 9 April 2020, in a briefing to the United Nations Security Council, the Secretary General stated that the COVID19 crisis is the gravest test for the world since the founding of the United Nations. In addition to the widespread social and economic impacts of this health crisis, he said that “… the pandemic also poses a significant threat to the maintenance of international peace and security --potentially leading to an increase in social unrest and violence that would greatly undermine our ability to fight the disease.”
Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is a human rights violation and a universal issue. The ongoing crisis of VAWG is likely to worsen in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Emerging data shows that reports of VAWG, particularly domestic violence, have increased in many countries since the outbreak of COVID-19, as concerns around money, security and health increase tensions and strains. These strains are worsened by the cramped and confined living conditions of lockdown. In furtherance of the Women, Peace and Security agenda, the Secretary General issued a call to end the escalation of violence against women and girls as the pandemic spreads.
On 11 April, 2020, the United Nations Secretary General appealed to religious leaders of all faiths to join forces to work for peace and to focus on humanity’s common battle against COVID19. The statement came in the context of Easter celebrations by Christians, marking of Passover by Jews and the forthcoming holy month of Ramadan for Muslims.
The Secretary General also called for mobilizing strong and flexible funding for the COVID-19 Response Plan and existing humanitarian appeals, emphasizing that “Resources for one should not replace or divert from the other.” According to UNOCHA’s Financial Tracking System, the Global Humanitarian Response Plan launched on 25 March 2020, was 19.7 per cent funded as of 14 April 2020 with USD396.2 million. The largest contributions came from Japan (USD95.9 million), Kuwait (USD60 million), the European Commission (USD35.3 million) and Germany (USD28.3 million). An additional USD147.2 million received outside the plan brings humanitarian funding for COVID19 response to USD543.4 million. WHO’s global COVID-19 appeal has received USD356.3 million with the largest contributions coming from Kuwait, Japan, the European Commission, the World Bank and Germany.
At the local level, donors have committed over USD137 million for direct and indirect support to COVID19 response in Bangladesh. This includes USD100 million committed by the World Bank for the health response, USD26.1 million committed by DFID for the health response and humanitarian services for Rohingya refugees and the host communities, USD2.9 million by Australia for social protection and socioeconomic recovery, USD2.9 million by Switzerland and USD2.5 million by USAID. In addition, EU is expediting USD174 million in their regular support for social protection.
The economic impact of the pandemic is projected to be devastating at the global, regional and national levels. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the global economy could shrink by close to one percent in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and world output could contract further if imposed restrictions on economic activities extend to the third quarter of the year and if fiscal responses fail to support income and consumer spending.5 The International Monetary Fund, however, projects that global GDP could contract by (-)3 per cent in 2020.6 Regional economic growth in developing Asia is also projected to decline sharply in 2020 due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, before recovering in 2021. Regional growth is forecasted at 2.2 per cent in 2020, a downward revision of 3.3 percentage points relative to the 5.5 percent ADB had forecasted in September 2019. The first forecasts for Bangladesh by the World Bank put the GDP growth rate for 2020 in the 2.0 per cent to 3.0 per cent range driven by COVID-19 disruptions and the already weak performance of exports and private investment in the first half of the year. Sizeable fiscal measures, together with targeted monetary easing, are required to ensure economic and financial stability.
The Country Preparedness and Response Plan (CPRP) is in support of Government’s response to the COVID19 crisis. It looks at six key areas for enhancing the Government’s capacity: surveillance and laboratory support, contact tracing and screening, case management and infection prevention and control, risk communication and community engagement, logistics and procurement, preserving stability and enhancing social cohesion. The CPRP has been shared with Government of Bangladesh for information and approval.