By Gerardo Noto, Resident Representative, UNDP Libya
The rapid spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has shocked the world, with so far 33,257 dead and 697, 244 confirmed cases in 204 countries, areas and territories. The International Labor Organization estimates the loss of more than 25 million jobs and US$ 3.4 trillion losses in labor income.
It is expected that the COVID-19 crisis will hit developing countries harder with income losses exceeding $220 billion and nearly half of all jobs in Africa lost. An effective response must be driven by solidarity, science and human rights, whilst focusing on the most vulnerable people.
For the United Nations, and for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in particular, the facts about poverty, climate change, inequality, and conflicts around the world are relevant to the whole of humanity. For this reason, we have been listening to people and experts and working to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.
Impact on education, human rights and, in the most severe cases, basic food security and nutrition, is expected due to the coronavirus crisis, especially for the estimated 55 per cent of the global population with no access to social protection.
It is important to keep in mind that total number of confirmed cases do not provide a total accurate picture as like in the case of Libya there are gaps for testing capacity to identify COVID-19.
Furthermore, the need to respond to the current global health crisis only adds to the protracted security, political and economic crises. People in Libya live in permanent uncertainty and fear, as open conflict continues.
This new challenge comes to under-resourced hospitals and a fragile health systems, plus poor urban planning, the weak waste disposal services, and even traffic congestion impeding quick access to healthcare facilities.
For years, UNDP, as well as other UN agencies, have been supporting public institutions, local governments, civil society and communities in Libya to achieve stabilization, resilience and recovery, and contributing to shaping the conditions for peace and social cohesion in the west, east and south of the country.
Nowadays, UNDP, in coordination with public institutions and the United Nations, is responding to the Covid-19 crisis helping Libya in three ways:
The first is supporting national and local institutions to strengthen their health systems. With support from 13 international partners, our Stabilization Facility for Libya, and with funds from the European Union, our Resilience programme, continue supporting all three regions of Libya with provision of health infrastructure, health waste management, and water and sanitation equipment.
We are providing key strategic health infrastructure and medical equipment; upgrade capacities for local production of protection gear; help the Ministry of Health to build isolation rooms in hospitals and clinics, as well as provide technical assistance to design medical oxygen plants and procure urgent inputs like hospital beds, oxygen cylinders and corona virus test kits.
We are supporting Ministry of Justice to prevent and control COVID-19 in prisons.
We are also working with the Libya Accelerator Lab, part of a UNDP global network, to apply innovative ways and tools to support the COVID-19 response engaging key national and local actors for facilitating access to assistance to all and more effective actions.
The second is setting up a whole-of society response bringing all local and national authorities, civil society and private sector around the table. In Libya, this will include strengthening institutions for governance and crisis management at national and local level; and raising awareness on the exposure and precautions against the virus through a network of communication officers of municipalities in the South, West, and East of the country.
UNDP keeps supporting UNSMIL, so Libya can move forward with the Berlin peace process and pave the way for a comprehensive political solution, despite the constraints determined by the threat of the virus.
From Libya, we are hosting online reconciliation forums, and advocating in support of the call for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world issued by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, to fight the common enemy, COVID-19. We are supporting a group of 100 peace mediators from all corners of Libya spreading their word online: #unitedagainstcorona #peacenowstopcorona.
The third is addressing the socio-economic and human rights impacts of COVID-19 and safeguarding progress towards achieving the SDGs, including addressing stigma and discrimination arising from its spread and supporting marginalized people and vulnerable populations. In Libya, we will assess capacities and planning for long term inclusive development with especial focus on most vulnerable groups; implement special measures for those whose livelihoods are most affected; and conduct communication and advocacy campaigns engaging with civil society and community-based organizations at the local level to prevent discrimination.
Within the UN system coordinated response in Libya, we are working to ensure that no one is left behind, that we support preparation, management and recovery of this crisis and develop capacities for prevention in the longer term, and that we continue making progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
As UNDP in Libya, we continue working with and for the people of Libya, strengthening their capacities to respond to crises, now with a focus on the new corona virus pandemic, to overcome governance, social and economic impacts of conflict and crises from a long term inclusive and sustainable development perspective.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Libya Observer