— António Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations
All children, of all ages, and in all countries, are being affected, in particular by the socio-economic impacts and, in some cases, by mitigation measures that may inadvertently do more harm than good. This is a universal crisis and, for some children, the impact will be lifelong.
COVID-19 crisis is, in the first instance, a physical health crisis, but it has the
seeds of a major mental health crisis as well, if action is not taken. The mental health and wellbeing of whole societies have been severely impacted by this crisis and are a priority to be addressed urgently.
Impact of COVID-19 is harshest for those groups who were already in vulnerable situations before the crisis. This is particularly true for many people on the move, such as migrants in irregular situations, migrant workers with precarious livelihoods, or working in the informal economy, victims of trafficking in persons as well as people fleeing their homes because of persecution, war, violence, human rights violations or disaster, whether within their own countries — internally displaced persons (IDPs) — or across international borders — refugees and asylum-seekers.
The global crisis of COVID-19 is deepening pre-existing inequalities, exposing the extent of exclusion and highlighting that work on disability inclusion is imperative. People with disabilities—one billion people— are one of the most excluded groups in our society and are among the hardest hit in this crisis in terms of fatalities.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a health and human crisis threatening the food security and nutrition of millions of people around the world. Hundreds of millions of people were already suffering from hunger and malnutrition before the virus hit and, unless immediate action is taken, we could see a global food emergency.
Human rights are key in shaping the pandemic response, both for the public health emergency and the broader impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. Human rights put people centre-stage. Responses that are shaped by and respect human rights result in better outcomes in beating the pandemic, ensuring healthcare for everyone and preserving human dignity.
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing untold fear and suffering for older people across the world. Although all age groups are at risk of contracting COVID-19, older persons are at a significantly higher risk of mortality and severe disease following infection, with those over 80 years old dying at five times the average rate. An estimated 66% of people aged 70 and over have at least one underlying condition, placing them at increased risk of severe impact from COVID-19. Some older people face additional vulnerabilities at this time. The virus is not just threatening the lives and safety of older persons, it is also threatening their social networks, their access to health services, their jobs and their pensions.
Across every sphere, from health to the economy, security to social protection, the impacts of COVID-19 are exacerbated for women and girls simply by virtue of their sex. With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic even the limited gains made in the past decades on gender equality are at risk of being rolled back.
It is too early to know the full impact of COVID-19 on Africa. To date the experience has been varied. There are causes for concern, but also reasons for hope. Early estimates were pessimistic regarding the pandemic’s impact on the continent. But the relatively low numbers of COVID-19 cases reported thus far have raised hopes that African countries may be spared the worst of the pandemic.
We are facing a global health crisis unlike any in the 75-year history of the United Nations — one that is killing people, spreading human suffering, and upending people’s lives. But this is much more than a health crisis. It is a human crisis. The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is attacking societies at their core. This report is a call to action, for the immediate health response required to suppress transmission of the virus to end the pandemic; and to tackle the many social and economic dimensions of this crisis.
In an already struggling global economy, the global COVID-19-induced
contraction in economic activity is having disastrous consequences, including in debt sustainability. Legally binding contracts with different maturities, creditors, interest rates and financial structures that could have been easily
honored are now looming, while countries grapple with the need to fight the virus and address the development emergency it has unleashed.