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United Nations Bangladesh COVID-19 Situation Report #8 (5 June 2020)

UN RC Bangladesh
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On 28 May, the Secretary-General and the Prime Ministers of Canada and Jamaica convened a virtual High-Level Event on “Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond”.1 The event brought together over 50 heads of State and Government, heads of international institutions and leading voices from the business community to advance concrete financing solutions to the COVID-19 development emergency and its impacts on the most vulnerable. Six urgent areas of action were explored to mobilize the financing needed for the response and recovery. They are expanding liquidity across the global economy; addressing debt vulnerabilities; stemming illicit financial flows; increasing external finance for inclusive growth and job creation; and strategies for countries to recover better, achieve the SDGs, address climate change and restore the balance between the economy and nature. The United Nations Secretary-General called for immediate and collective actions on these six areas. Thirty countries and numerous international partners have underlined the need to make tests, treatments and other technologies to fight COVID-19, available to people everywhere. They have signed up to support the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP), a sister initiative to the ACT Accelerator, established last month, to speed up development of vaccines and other tools against the pandemic. WHO has described C-TAP as “a one-stop shop” that will be voluntary and based on the principle of solidarity.

ILO’s latest analysis of the labor market impact of COVID-19 exposes the devastating and disproportionate effect of the pandemic on young workers, and details measures being taken to create a safe return to work environment. According to the ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work. 4th edition released on 27 May, youth are being disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and the substantial and rapid increase in youth unemployment seen since February is affecting young women more than young men. Pointing to fears of “a lost generation” who face permanent exclusion from labor markets, the ILO chief cautioned that as the world recovers from the pandemic, a lot of young people are going to be left behind. He called for getting the health response right, getting the social economic response right and building back better.

The Human Rights Council issued a Presidential Statement6 on 27 May, urging States to ensure to respect, protect and fulfill human rights during the pandemic7 . The United Nations Human Rights Office issued guidance8 on the important role of civic space during the pandemic, noting that civil society is instrumental in creating trust and it also serves as a platform to debate and inform better responses. UNCTAD and the five United Nations regional commissions have joined forces to help governments and businesses in developing countries keep transport networks and borders operational and facilitate the flow of goods and services, while containing the spread of the novel coronavirus. The project launched this month will implement United Nations solutions, standards, guidelines, metrics, tools and methodologies to help developing countries build transport, trade and logistics resilience in the wake of COVID-19.9 The latest policy brief issued from UNDESA on 28 May highlighted the need for businesses and investors to adjust to a world of increasing uncertainty or mounting risks due to COVID-19. It stresses that the businesses can no longer focus only on short-term financial returns to be viable; they must anticipate and prepare for future risks, including growing risks from climate change and unsustainable practices.10 The World Bank, in collaboration with the Government of Colombia, is developing a prototype dashboard that helps policy makers on a near real-time basis monitor the interplay of virus spread, health sector readiness to address new clusters of infections, and the readiness of economic sectors to operate safely as governments around the world are facing an unfortunate tradeoff between containing the spread of the virus and enabling economic activity to resume. The joint IMF-World Bank staff position note issued on 21 May made a set of high-level recommendations that can guide national regulatory and supervisory responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and offered an overview of measures taken across jurisdictions to date. The position note calls for timely, targeted and well-designed regulatory and supervisory actions to maintain the provision of critical financial services, particularly to households and firms that are affected most, while mitigating financial risks, maintaining balance sheet transparency, and preserving longer-term financial policy credibility. The IMF has further emphasized the importance of accurate and timely economic data for informing policy decisions, especially when the crisis has disrupted the production of many key statistics impeding the ability of governments to properly monitor the recovery. A new information note published by the WTO Secretariat on 29 May points to the importance of services to broader economic activity and its role in connecting supply chains and facilitating merchandise trade as services account for most of women’s employment globally and a great share of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises activity, disruptions in the supply of services also have an impact on social and economic inclusiveness.14 The report suggests that services sectors, and the creation of conditions conducive to trade in services, will be key to the recovery from the economic slowdown as the crisis is further underscoring the importance of online services, as well as the broader infrastructural role of financial, transport, distribution and logistics services in facilitating merchandise trade and economic growth.15 The Asian Development Bank (ADB) released a study which maps supply chains for critical products in the global response to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, clearing the way for the identification and removal of blockages in their production and distribution.16 The interactive maps will enable banks, investors, governments, and healthcare professionals to pinpoint key companies in the supply of portable ventilators, N95 respirators, face shields, goggles, aprons, surgical masks, and gowns.17 The mapping project feeds data that already exists from many sources into an algorithm that sorts the information by applying various industry and product codes - a future phase of this initiative will look at blockages at ports, tariff requirements, and other impediments to the efficient functioning of supply chains for these critical goods. As of 30 May 2020, the Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) received USD 1.17 billion against the total requirement of USD 6.71 billion, which is 17.5% of the appeal.18 The largest contributors were Germany (USD 185.6 million), the United States of America (USD 183.6 million), the United Kingdom (USD 126.1 million), and Japan (USD 106.8 million). As of 30 May 2020, WHO’s Solidarity Response Fund had mobilized USD 214.5 million from more than 389,000 donations.19 WHO reported USD 4.05 billion in total support committed or disbursed for the COVID-19 response.20 The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), on 29 May, approved a disbursement of SDR 177.77 million (about US$ 244 million or 16.67 percent of quota) under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF), and a purchase of SDR 355.53 million (about US$ 488 million or 33.33 percent of quota) under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) to Bangladesh to help finance the health, social protection and macroeconomic stabilization measures, meet the urgent balance-of-payments and fiscal needs arising from the COVID-19 outbreak, and catalyze additional support from the international community.21 It is expected that the IMF’s emergency financial assistance will help cover the financing gap and support the Bangladesh government’s effort to contain the adverse impact of the outbreak and catalyze additional support from the international community.22The European Union has allocated Euro 334 million for COVID-19 in Bangladesh. The response will include mitigation of the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic, strengthening health system, support to Rohingya refugees and support to the ultra-poor and vulnerable families.