UNDP Development Dialogue
COVID-19 and crisis contexts one year on: What have we learnt? How can we fast-track recovery?
11 March 2021, 5:30 Pm -7:00 Pm (Kabul Time)
8:00 am – 9:30 am New york time
Breakout sessions – 28 minutes
4 minutes as people move back to the YouTube feed, and speakers move back to the StreamYard studio
Final 28 minute plenary – call for urgent support for a resilient recovery in fragile states
H.E. Deputy Minister, Abdul Habib Zadran will speak in the breakout session and together with UNDP discuss the findings of the joint assessment of covid-19 on fragile and conflict affected states.
The world enters the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected us all irrespective of our region, race or economic and political might. But its impacts on conflict-affected countries have been even more daunting and immediate. As COVID-19 was declared as pandemic, it started overwhelming the already overstretched and under-resourced health systems as its direct impact. The virus, amid their most critical transition caught countries such as those in the g7+ group. The direct and indirect impacts of the pandemic and the associated counter-measures threatened reversing the hard-won gains made over decades.
Given the fragile peace and weak economies, the outbreak of the pandemic is more than a health crisis. It has undermined peace, security, and justice, the most precious commodity for our people. Despite the global call for ceasefire, conflicts, in some of our countries did not only continue, but were escalated. This is contrary to our expectation that the outbreak of the pandemic would at least induce solidarity and empathy on part of insurgents including terrorists and spoilers. My own country Afghanistan, which stands on a critical juncture, witnessed increased number of insurgency and terrorism. This includes target killings, a new tactic of our enemies to deprive Afghanistan of the cadre it has build over decades. Despite the National and international plea for ceasefire Taliban and other terrorist groups used this natural crisis for their ominous objective of killing people. Similarly, other countries witness riots and protests against lockdowns.
Economic downturn characterized by the loss of jobs, collapse of businesses, reduction in remittance flows, and disruptions in commodity supply chains and food systems have pushed even more people to extreme poverty. Lockdowns and closure of borders have threatened displaced people, women-headed families and other vulnerable population the most. They have further affected agriculture, and small and medium businesses, which have been source of livelihood for millions of our people. Our cash-strapped governments are not able to provide relief packages; a response in rich and developed countries. Overwhelmed by political fragmentation and conflicts, institutors in fragile countries struggle to contain the flow of virus with meager resources available to them.
The joint assessment done by UNDP and g7+ secretariat has a snapshot of the socio-economic and political consequences of the pandemic on peace and wellbeing of the fragile countries. It is true that the socio-economic impact of this natural crisis is a global phenomenon. However, conflict-affected countries are too vulnerable to contain these impacts. Their institutions are not that resilient to stand such shocks. Majority of our population already live on hand to mouth economically. Imagine what would a loss of job and livelihood mean for these people!
Against this background I would like to leave you with 3 points as food for thought as we aspire to build-back-better; the only light at the end of this dark tunnel:
First: The pandemic has manifested a well established fact that we live in a very well inter-connected world. Fenced and walled borders have already fallen vulnerable to avoid the spillover of conflicts and wars. So addressing existing wars and conflicts and preventing the same is a common public good for us. We need to quadruple our efforts and deploy all arms of diplomacy to foster peace and stability everywhere in the world; and in particular in countries like ours which has been in war for decades. This needs to be the underlying principle of building-back-better the post pandemic world.
Second: The pandemic has brought to surface the deeply rooted inequalities and fragility in systems guiding governance and cooperation at all level. The g7+ has spoken out loud against the inequalities and systematic failure in building lasting peace and stability even before the outbreak of the pandemic. It is time to fix our policies of engagement and make them fit for purpose. The New Deal for engagement in fragile states was developed to reform the way we engage in fragile states. As this year marks 10th anniversary of the New Deal, which coincides, with the first anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to review and reaffirm our commitments to its principles.
Last but not least; while “first-me-approach” has been the focus of National policies in developed countries, we need cooperation and solidarity more than ever. Regional and global level cooperation is indispensible to contain the common enemy; the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, self-reliance of conflict-affected countries is a foundation for their peace and stability. But this is almost next to impossible without the assistance of developed countries and multi-lateral development instituons. We, therefore, hope that the existing level of ODA is maintained and even made more effective. This also include strengthening initiatives like COVAX to help these countries access vaccine.
I thank you for your attention!