1. GLOBAL OVERVIEW
On 8 May, the United Nations Secretary General called for an all-out effort to end hate speech globally – a global appeal to address and counter COVID-19 hate speech. He called for political leaders, educational institutions, social media companies, civil society and religious actors to act decisively in their respective spheres of influence to counter hate speech, stigma and discrimination, and to serve as models of mutual respect. He also called for everyone, everywhere, to stand up against hate, treat each other with dignity and take every opportunity to spread kindness. On 6 May, the United Nations released a policy brief on ‘Disability inclusive response to COVID-19’ as the global crisis is deepening pre-existing inequalities, exposing the extent of exclusion and highlighting the need for inclusion of persons with disabilities. The Secretary General urged governments to place people with disabilities at the center of COVID-19 response and recovery efforts and to consult and engage people with disabilities. The brief identifies four key action areas – (a) mainstreaming of disability in all COVID19 response and recovery together with targeted actions, (b) enhancing accessibility of information, facilities, services and programmes in the COVID-19 response and recovery, (c) undertaking meaningful consultation with and active participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in all stages of the COVID-19 response and recovery, and (d) establishing accountability mechanisms to ensure disability inclusion in the COVID-19 response. On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May the Secretary General upheld the importance of impartial news media at a time when harmful health advice, hate speech and wild conspiracy theories are rising, and blatant lies are being spread online at a dizzying rate. During the online dialogue on World Press Freedom Day, he said “the antidote to this pandemic of misinformation is fact-based news and analysis.”.4 The United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression called upon States to ensure that media workers can do their jobs without fear, noting that journalism expands the public's right to know and to accountable government during the public health crisis. The International Telecommunication Union, reiterated the importance of bridging the digital divide for the 3.6 billion people who remain off-line as the COVID-19 pandemic reshapes the way in which we work, keep in touch, go to school and shop for essentials . They called for universal broadband access and the need to accelerate the provision of global online child protection guidelines as the internet traffic tripled and a massive spike in cyber-crime that has accompanied the shift to digital in the COVID-19 crisis.6 Lockdown measures will worsen poverty and vulnerabilities among the world’s two billion informal economy workers – the COVID-19 lockdown and containment measures threaten to increase relative poverty levels among the world’s informal economy workers by as much as 56 percentage points in lowincome countries, said the International Labour Organization (ILO).7 In the latest policy brief on “COVID19 crisis and the informal economy: Immediate responses and policy challenges”, ILO has recommended sustained efforts in the medium to long term for those in the informal economy on (a) strengthening health systems to ensure access and financial protection for all, (b) building universal social protection, (c) supporting the recovery of productive economic units, stepping up their productivity and facilitating their transition to formality so as to enhance formal job opportunities, and (d) facilitating the transition to formality. As of 10 May 2020, the Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) has received USD 812.8 million against an increased total requirement of USD 6.69 billion. The UN’s Humanitarian Chief has called for swift and determined action to avoid the most destabilizing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as he releases a $6.7 billion appeal and an updated global plan to fight coronavirus in fragile countries on 7 May 2020. The humanitarian system is taking action to avert a sharp rise in conflict, hunger, poverty and disease as a result of the pandemic and the associated global recession. The new GHRP included nine additional vulnerable countries and programmes to respond to the growth in food insecurity10. The appeal for the COVID-19 related requirements under the Joint Response Plan (JRP) for the Rohingya crisis is USD 117.2 million – the revised new COVID-19 related requirements, plus total 2020 JRP requirement adjusted to COVID-19 response, will be presented in the June GHRP update. Furthermore, WHO’s Solidarity Response Fund had mobilized USD 211.3 million from more than 371,000 donations.12 WHO reported USD 2.9 billion in total support committed or disbursed for the COVID-19 response.13 At the local level, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved an additional $500 million loan to bolster the efforts of the Government of Bangladesh to manage the impact of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on the country’s economy and the public health, which will build on ADB’s ongoing collaboration with Bangladesh on structural reforms by supporting government efforts to speed up the country’s social and economic recovery.