g7+ Secretariat


Brief and Remarks for H.E. Deputy Chair 

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

Objective: To share perspective of the g7+ regarding the socio-economic and political impacts of COVID-19 on conflict affected countries by highlighting findings of the joint assessment by UNDP and g7+. As we all know, since 2019, senior officials of the of g7+ have not had the opportunity of meeting physically as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic. Good morning, good afternoon; good evening depending on which part of the world you are joining from. I bring you greetings from the Chair of g7+ Dr Francis Kai-Kai, who could not be here due to logistical reasons. He sends his support and best wishes for a very fruitful meeting.
The Event: It is part of the Development Dialogue series of events organized by UNDP to discuss and review challenges facing conflict affected countries.  This particular event “COVID-19 and crisis contexts one year on: What have we learnt? How can we fast-track recovery?” is co-organized by UNDP and g7+ on the margin of the first anniversary of COVID-19 to launch and report of the joint assessment of secondary impact of COVID-19 in fragile and conflict-affected countries.

Run of the program

First 28 minute plenary:
  1. Welcome by moderator – Mark Eddo
  2. Five minute opening remarks from Mr. Haoliang Xu, UNDP
  3. Five minutes from the Ambassador Kiruma, Japan
  4. Five minutes from Hilde Hardeman EU Foreign Policy Instruments
  5. Some Q and A depending on time

4 minutes as people move to the four breakout sessions –

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

  • Welcome back from the moderator, and a quick run through of the short takeaways from each breakout session
  • Five minutes with Zena Ali-Ahmad – RR Iraq
  • Five minutes with Deputy Chair of the g7+ – H.E. Abdul Habib Zadran, Deputy Minister for Finance, Ministry of Finance of Afghanistan
  • Five minutes with George Conway, Deputy Director, Crisis Bureau
  • Some Q and A if time but probably not

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.

Proposed remarks

  • Highlight the direct and indirect impact of the pandemic on conflict affected countries (findings of the joint assessment)
  • Highlight the way forward as recommendations for recovery in conflict affected countries
  • Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, good evening from Kabul, Afghanistan. As it marks the first anniversary of this unprecedented crisis of the century, let me, on behalf of my government and the entire g7+ group, extend our sympathies to the victims of COVD-19. We wish a speedy recovery for those contacted by the virus and we grieve with the families of those who have lost their loved ones to COVID-19.
At the outset, I would like to thank the g7+ secretariat UNDP for conducting a joint assessment of the impact of the pandemic on conflict-affected countries. We hope that the discussion paper will help stir the much-needed debate on how the virus has presented grim challenges for the world’s poorest nations. The devastating impacts of the pandemic on the world’s fragile countries have rarely been part of the global debate. I hope he pepper helps in ensuring the fragile and conflict-affected countries are not further left behind in discourse on global recovery.

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.

Strength in Fragility
Press Release Poverty Reduction in Fragile States in the Spotlight-1

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!

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