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The New Arab Staff

World's poorest nations face 'summer of violence and virus', report warns

Yemen is among the countries which could be hit with even more conflict [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 June, 2020

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A BBC war reporter is warning that there could be serious ramifications for Yemen and Afghanistan in the fight against Covid-19.
As coronavirus continues its sweep across the world, a number of countries including Afghanistan and Yemen which are already riddled with war may see an escalation of violence, a war reporter said.

BBC war reporter Lyse Doucet told the Observer that she fears “a terrifying mix of violence and the virus” will hit countries such as Yemen, Afghanistan and Somalia, where Covid-19 has yet to have reached its peak.

“Conflict will also be magnified and multiplied by impoverishment, starvation and despair…Expect a hot summer,” Doucet went on to say.

The economic cost of the virus, which has plummeted employment levels in countries across the world and the Middle East, will be vast.

“There aren’t enough resources [in the developing world] to either test or treat – and because of corruption, the wealthy will get the resources that do exist.”

Doucet’s words echo across the region; a toxic mix of job cuts and an economic downturn due in part to the global financial crisis brought about by Covid-19 made Tunisians take to the streets in protest.

Millions of children could be pushed to the brink of starvation as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across war-torn Yemen amid a "huge" drop in humanitarian aid funding, the UN children’s agency UNICEF warned on Friday.

The stark prediction comes in a new UNICEF report, “Yemen five years on: Children, conflict and Covid-19.” It said the number of malnourished Yemeni children could reach 2.4 million by the end of the year, a 20 percent increase in the current figure.

“As Yemen’s devastated health system and infrastructure struggle to cope with coronavirus, the already dire situation for children is likely to deteriorate considerably,” warned UNICEF.

Yemen's poor health care infrastructure is unprepared to battle the coronavirus pandemic after five years of war between a Saudi-led military coalition and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. The war, which has mostly stalemated, has also triggered the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

In Lebanon, a currency crash brought about partially by restrictions imposed to combat coronavirus in March led to anti-government protests that have turned violent, with activists and journalists arrested.

Many Jordanians are struggling to make ends meet after the government imposed one of the toughest lockdowns in the world due to the coronavirus epidemic, the UN has said.

Some businesses have re-opened after a nationwide lockdown was announced on 20 March, leading to a complete freeze on business activity in the country.

Read more: How India is clamping down on Muslim activists under the cover of coronavirus

Jordan had already been rocked by economic challenges before the tough curfews were enacted, but the situation now for businesses looks even more grim, Sara Ferrer Olivella, resident representative of UNDP Jordan, told Reuters.

"Many businesses were not doing well even prior to the crisis, similarly many families have little savings left to cope with income losses due to lockdown measures," Olivella told the agency.


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