The year 2020 was marked by outbreak of pandemic of COVID-19; an unprecedented event in the century. It affected all countries in the world directly and/or indirectly. The severity of the impact has depended on the relative strengthen of the countries “immune system”, i.e. the institutional and economic resilience. The impact of the novel corona virus in conflict affected counties such as those in g7+ has been even more severe and long lasting. The global measure such as lock downs and restrictions have had adverse social and economic impact on these countries where survival has already been threatened by conflict, poverty and institutional fragility in these countries.
The g7+ secretariat was busy consulting with members and partners on how best to operationalize the observer status that the group attained in 2019, when covid-19 was declared pandemic. It severely affected most g7+ activities in 2020. However the g7+ secretariat continued pursuing the group’s mission.
The g7+ group issued a joint call as part of its advocacy and collective response to curb covid-19 pandemic. It included four asks on how to address the pandemic in the world’s poorest countries such as those in the g7+ and how to sensitive the global response.
Under the g7+ fragile-to-fragile cooperation, the secretariat continued to facilitate sharing of experience and peer learning in dealing with COVID-19 pandemic among members and non-member countries. Recognizing the impact of pandemic on every aspect of life, the g7+ engaged on various platforms to advocate for the g7+ priorities. This has included collaboration on trade of peace, socio-economic and development.
Most of activities such as engagement at the UN, Ministerial meeting, and peer learning missions in 2020 were affected due to restriction on travels. However, the g7+ continued to hold virtual meetings with members and partners, thanks to virtual technology. This included of Ministers of Foreign affairs level meeting of g7+ during the 75th Session of UN General Assembly and meeting with member states senior official meetings in December 2020.
This annual report summarizes progress made against the g7+ strategic priorities namely (1) Policy Advocacy: (2) Fragile-to-Fragile Cooperation and (3) Strengthening g7+.
COVID-19 and its implications
While COVID-19 was novel in nature, it hit conflict affected countries even harder. The number of positive cases (direct impact) of corona virus in conflict affected countries though it may be due to weak testing capacity in the fragile and conflict affected countries. However, what did not get measured in time has been the indirect impact of covid-19 in countries in fragile situation. COVID-19 and the global adapted countermeasures were compounded by humanitarian crisis in some of the countries such as those inn conflict. Public institutions such as health and education got overwhelmed due to limited capacity and resources.
Against the expectation and despite the global call for ceasefire, violence continued to rise in some countries already in conflict. This further complicated the work of peace building and humanitarian actors. Displaced person and immigrants got stranded across borders which doubled the human suffering and tragedies. National authorities imposing countermeasure such as confinement and lockdowns were faced with violence by mobs in many countries; further exacerbating lawlessness and conflict.
Border closures badly affected flow of trade and business and this further resulted in rising unemployment and hence extreme poverty. Cash-strapped governments in conflict affected countries struggled to help people and business survive. Vulnerable people such as women continued to suffer the most.
During the g7+ technical meeting on August 2020, many concerns on the impact of pandemic on their country were raised by g7+ member counties. A representative from Solomon Island talked about the fall in revenue from tourism sector since there was no visitors due to the implementation of lockdown. Afghanistan has experienced a decline in real GDP to 3%, decrease in their industry by 5.2% and services by 6.1%, the unemployment rate increased to 40% from only around 11% in 2019, poverty increase from 55% to 70%, and domestic revenue expected to decline of around USD722 million (around 26.5%). Similarly, South Sudan experienced economic downfall due to reduction in oil prices while Timor-Leste lost USD$1.8 billion (60%) in its petroleum fund due to fall in the Oil prices globally. Furthermore, Central African Republic and Togo face economic difficulty. Other members countries such as Haiti has experienced increase in risk of food insecurity and increase in inflation while São Tome e Principe had financial instability due to highly dependency on external resources. ....READ MORE