Tunisia urges immediate Security Council action amid coronavirus outbreak

Tunisia urges immediate Security Council action amid coronavirus outbreak
Tunisia called on the UN Security Council to take action amid an ongoing global coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 46,000 people worldwide.
3 min read
01 April, 2020
More than 40,000 have died from the virus worldwide [Getty]
Tunisia has proposed a UN Security Council resolution calling for "urgent international action" to curb the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, a draft obtained Wednesday by AFP shows.

In broad terms, the draft resolution echoes UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in calling for "an immediate global humanitarian ceasefire."

Tunisia, a non-permanent member of the Security Council, proposes in the preamble that the council express "concern about the impact on food security and economies... all over the world due to work, travel and trade restrictions, lockdown measures and cessation of industrial activities."

Tunisia's mission at the United Nations could not immediately be reached for comment on the draft.

Read also: EXCLUSIVE: UN coronavirus relief chief Mark Lowcock appeals for immediate Middle East ceasefire

According to diplomats, the proposed resolution's fate is uncertain as long as the United States continues to push for identifying the virus's Chinese origin, which would likely result in a veto by China.

Russia, which also holds a veto, might also want the resolution to call for a lifting of sanctions to better fight the pandemic.

Without US and European support, the resolution in that case would risk failing to garner the minimum nine of 15 votes required for passage.

The UN Security Council has yet to take a unified position on the pandemic, nor has the UN General Assembly.

Only Guterres has spoken out, warning on multiple occasions that "millions" of people are at risk of dying and stressing the need for a coordinated global response to what he described as the worst crisis since World War II.

Guterres has extended his order for non-essential UN to stay at home until the end of April.

Last week, the UN launched a humanitarian response plan featuring a $2 billon appeal for the world's poorest people to battle the novel coronavirus.

"COVID-19 is threatening the whole of humanity - and the whole of humanity must fight back. Global action and solidarity are crucial. Individual country responses are not going to be enough," Guterres said in announcing the initiative.

"This COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan aims to enable us to fight the virus in the world’s poorest countries, and address the needs of the most vulnerable people, especially women and children, older people, and those with disabilities or chronic illness," said Guterres.

"We cannot afford to lose the gains we have made through investments in humanitarian action and in the Sustainable Development Goals," he added.

The amount of money sought by the plan is small compared to the $2 trillion that the US Congress is poised to approve as a rescue effort for devastated American consumers, companies and hospitals as the US economy grinds to a sudden halt.

The UN plan is designed to last from April to December - suggesting the UN does not see the crisis ending any time soon.

The exact total of $2.012 billion is supposed to come from appeals that various UN agencies have already made, such as the World Health Organisation and the World Food Program.

The COVID-19 virus
, which was first detected in China's Wuhan in December, has killed more than 46,438 people worldwide, while over 926,625 infections have been confirmed.

The majority of those that infected with corona experience only mild or moderate symptoms, including fever and a dry cough.

As of yet, there are no known treatments for the virus, though more than 193,431 have already recovered from the infection.

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