BEIRUT: The ongoing pandemic is creating increasing challenges on an Arab region struggling with decades-long development initiatives, military conflict, and declining economies, slowing efforts to fight the deadly Covid-19 virus.
In a policy brief released Thursday by UN Secretary-General, the global organization noted, however, the Arab region can leverage recovery plans to help recreate the region.
“The impact of COVID-19 on the Arab Region: An Opportunity to Build Back Better, “ argues that the response to pandemic represents an important opportunity to address some of the structural weaknesses of the Arab region.
Conflict, weak public institutions, undiversified economies, inadequate social safety nets, and high unemployment and inequality levels are some of the region’s long-standing vulnerabilities outlined by the brief.
“Now is the time to take immediate measures to slow the spread of the disease, end the conflict and meet the urgent needs of the most vulnerable,” said António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations. “We must deepen efforts to address inequalities, boost economic recovery through reimagining the region’s economic model, and prioritize human rights.”
The brief also underlines the strengths and opportunities that Arab countries can leverage to build back better. Those include a determined young population that should be further empowered; educated women and girls whose equal rights should be upheld and participation ensured; and an active private sector that can become a recovery booster, namely through further investment in human capital, technology, and innovation.
The Secretary-General also invited the Arab States to “ensure a vibrant civil society and free media and create more accountable institutions that will increase citizen trust and strengthen the social contract.”
According to the brief, for the region to come back stronger, the health-sector and social protection reforms should be widened; provisions for continued access to education should be adopted; and steps to ensure Arab countries’ greater access to development money, such as a regional solidarity fund, could be taken.
An-Nahar is not responsible for the comments that users post below. We kindly ask you to keep this space a clean and respectful forum for discussion.