Covid and conflicts

 
August 05, 2020

The UN and other experts have warned that the Covid-19 pandemic could bring havoc not only to the health sector but also to other walks of life. They have said that the economic disaster caused by...

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The UN and other experts have warned that the Covid-19 pandemic could bring havoc not only to the health sector but also to other walks of life. They have said that the economic disaster caused by the pandemic could lead to an intensification of conflict and tensions around the world. There is already concern from aid agencies that Covid-19 is hampering humanitarian programmes, with teams unable to operate freely in conflict-hit zones or provide relief to persons suffering severe economic hardships. The pandemic has also meant spending has had to be diverted to battling the disease rather than helping rebuild shattered economies hit by long years of war. According to UN experts, the economic impact could worsen and lead to more disorder. There is particular concern about the humanitarian situation in Yemen, Libya and Syria.

Experts have already described the conflict in Yemen as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. There is a genuine risk of famine in Yemen and also concern that other countries such as Lebanon will be pulled into a state of conflict. Lockdowns have meant economies have had no chance to rebuild while unemployment has soared globally and it appears that this pattern will continue for the next many months and possibly years. Countries such as Germany, which were attempting to intervene in Libya and resolve the fighting, are now tied up with the situation in Europe and efforts to overcome it.

The coronavirus is already fueling poverty and inequity. There is concern in a growing number of countries that it could stir up riots over the division of supplies and also over government policies. We have already seen sometimes violent protests in the US and also the UK and Europe over the wearing of masks and what citizens term an assault on their rights to assembly and movement. These are contentious points. The pandemic has taken over life and divided people in many ways. It is still uncertain how these matters can be resolved. The problems are likely to continue until the virus is brought under control. There are experts who suggest this could take years. But, in the meanwhile, other issues that arise from it need to be tackled. The UN has already called for a global ceasefire to give people a relief from conflict and the horrors that it brings. This advice has not been followed. It is difficult to predict the future but many experts believe it could be a troubled one as economies struggle to recover and fears grow that failing systems may trigger new rounds of war.



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