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New social programmes needed for world's poor, UN chief urges

Saturday, October 17, 2020

NEW YORK, United States (UNNews) — Arguing that the COVID-19 pandemic represents “a double crisis” for the world's poorest people, the UN Secretary-General has called for "a new generation of social programmes" for people living in poverty, during the pandemic and beyond.

Secretary-General António Guterres issued the appeal in a video message to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, observed annually on 17 October.

“First, they have the highest risk of exposure to the virus, and least access to quality healthcare”, said Guterres. 

“Second, recent estimates show the pandemic could push up to 115 million people into poverty this year – the first increase in decades. Women are at greatest risk because they are more likely to lose their jobs, and less likely to have social protection.”

The UN chief underscored the need for extraordinary efforts to fight poverty at this time, and called for strong collective action and for governments to accelerate economic transformation by investing in sustainable recovery.

Countries need “a new generation of social protection programmes” that also cover people who work in the informal economy, he said.   

“Joining together in common cause is the only way we will emerge safely from this pandemic”, said the Secretary-General. 

“On the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, let's stand in solidarity with people living in poverty, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.”

The International Day was established by a UN General Assembly resolution adopted in December 1992.

The theme this year is 'Acting together to achieve social and environmental justice for all'.

For the UN, this focus recognises “the multi-dimensionality of poverty”, meaning that social justice cannot be fully realized without also working to address environmental injustices, including those due to climate change.