Coronavirus reveals ‘fragility of our world’: UN chief
JOHANNESBURG, July 18, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Coronavirus has revealed the
“fragile skeleton” of societies and could push 100 million people into
extreme poverty, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres
said on Saturday.
Speaking on the 102nd birthday anniversary of the late Nelson
Mandela — South Africa’s first black president — Guterres said
coronavirus was “shining a spotlight” on global injustice.
“We have been brought to our knees — by a microscopic virus. The
pandemic has demonstrated the fragility of our world.”
“Entire regions that were making progress on eradicating poverty and
narrowing inequality have been set back years, in a matter of months,”
he warned at a virtual memorial lecture organised by the
Johannesburg-based Nelson Mandela Foundation.
The economic fallout of the pandemic, which has infected more than
14 million and killed close to 600,000 people worldwide, is being
disproportionately felt among informal workers, small businesses and
women, Guterres said.
“We face the deepest global recession since World War II,” he said.
“One hundred million more people could be pushed into extreme poverty.
We could see famines of historic proportions.”
Coronavirus is an “x-ray” that has revealed “fractures in the
fragile skeleton of the societies we have built”, he added, citing
unequal healthcare provision, unpaid care work, income disparity and
climate change as some of the concerns.
“It is exposing fallacies and falsehoods everywhere… The delusion
that we live in a post-racist world. The myth that we are all in the
He said the world’s 26 richest people hold as much wealth as half
the global population.
“But income, pay and wealth are not the only measures of
inequality,” he added.
Guterres said people were running out of patience at the glaring
disparities and discrimination across societies.
He singled out the global anti-racism movement stoked by the death
of George Floyd — an African-American man killed by a white policeman
in May — as simply “one more sign that people have had enough”.
Enough of “inequality and discrimination that treats people as
criminals on the basis of their skin colour”, enough of “structural
racism” and “systematic injustice”.
Coronavirus, he said, had also created an opportunity for world
leaders to build a “more equal and sustainable world”.
“We are at breaking point. But we know which side of history we are on.”