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Photo Credit: UN Photo/ Kibae Park

Viewpoint by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

The writer is Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

BANGKOK (IDN) – The unprecedented public health emergency triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and its multi-faceted impact on people's lives around the world is taking a heavy toll on Asia and the Pacific.

Countries in our region are striving to mitigate the massive socioeconomic impact of the pandemic, which is also expected to affect the region's economic health. In its annual Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2020 launched on May 8, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) expects growth in Asia-Pacific developing economies to slow down significantly this year.

Image: The Banker’s Fate from Henry Holiday's original illustrations to "The Hunting of the Snark" by Lewis Carroll. (1876). Credit: Wikicommons. Public Domain

On the Future of Capitalism after the Pandemic

Viewpoint by Albena Azmanova*

This article was originally published on openDemocracy. Any views or opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of IDN-InDepth News.

LONDON (IDN) – While nursing his gravely ill godson in the spring of 1876, Lewis Carroll wrote the 141-stanza absurdist poem "The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in 8 Fits". In the plot, a crew of ten sets out on a sea voyage chasing an elusive creature, a Snark – an allegory for the search of happiness. The venture does not pan out well – the Snark eventually turns out to be a highly dangerous Boojum who has the power to make things "softly and suddenly vanish away, and never be met with again."

Image: Collage of resources from the Internet.

Applause for UN Chief's Leadership While Missing Out His 'Global Ceasefire' Plea

By J Nastranis

NEW YORK (IDN) – Short of referring to the clarion call by UN Secretary-General António Guterres on March 23 for "an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world", in support of the bigger battle against the devastating pandemic, the Group of 77 (G77) has in a statement congratulated him for his "strong leadership in this time of crisis" and welcomed the launch of the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund "to strengthen health systems and assist vulnerable populations across the globe".

Photo: Numbers of deaths have halved in the last four years, according to the respected Global Terrorism Index. published by the Institute for Economics and Peace. The numbers killed were 33,555 in 2014 but in 2018 were 15,952. Credit: Global Terrorism Index 2019.

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN) – Let's get death in proportion. True, Coronavirus is an appalling disease but the number of deaths it has caused this year is far lower than deaths caused by either common flue, car accidents, drug taking, alcoholism or cigarette smoking. Governments don't like these things and make an effort to combat them. But they don't get themselves as worked up as they have with Coronavirus. (For starters, why don't they outlaw all smoking?) A Russian friend texted me from Moscow the other day saying the pandemic we should worry about is "the pandemic of fear". Where is our sense of proportion?

Photo: Collage of images from the Internet.

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK (IDN) – The U.S. and France are treading unexpected paths to besiege COVID-19 with African assistance. Striking a different note, the Nigerians have strong reservations about a team of Chinese specialists invited to support them in combating the pandemic in the West African country.

While the desperate USAID relief agency has been seeking personal protective equipment (PPE) from poor countries to safeguard much needed supplies in the U.S., and a French doctor wants to test drugs on Africans. But the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) is bashing the government for inviting an 18-man team of Chinese specialists in helping to combat the COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria.

Photo: Police officers and commuters at the Likoni Ferry terminal, Kenya, 27 March 2020. Credit: All Rights Reserved

By Saida Ali

Saida Ali is an intersectional feminist and an international policy analyst. She is an Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity. She tweets at @SaidaAaliyah

NAIROBI (IDN) – On March 27, in response to the threat of COVID-19, Kenya instituted a nationwide dusk-to-dawn curfew. That night, a man was beaten by police and later died of his injuries. A few days later, a boy looking out from the balcony of his home was killed by a police bullet.

These are not isolated cases. Kenyan police are killing the poor. At a time when the forces charged with protecting and serving us should be doing their utmost to help, they continue to pathologise people facing multiple and intersecting inequalities, and a daily struggle to earn a living.

Photo: WHO concerned as COVID-19 cases accelerate in Africa. Credit: WHO

By Devendra Kamarajan

BRAZZAVILLE (IDN) – With more than 6,000 COVID-19 cases reported in Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed concern about the virus threatening fragile health systems on the continent. Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said: "Case numbers are increasing exponentially in the African region" – not only between African countries but within different localities in the hardest-hit countries.

Image: The International Atomic Energy Agency is helping dozens of countries use a nuclear-derived technique called rRT-PCR to detect the new coronavirus, by providing the necessary equipment, guidance and training. Credit: Screenshot of IAEA video.

By Reinhard Jacobsen

VIENNA (IDN) – Responding to requests for support from around 90 Member States in controlling an increasing number of infections worldwide, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is dispatching a first batch of equipment to more than 40 countries to enable them to use a nuclear-derived technique to rapidly detect the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Also known as the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA said that several countries have shown strong support for this emergency assistance and announced major funding contributions for the IAEA's efforts in helping to tackle the pandemic.

Image: The examples of new partnerships springing up between the authorities and tech companies abound: the UK National Health Service is now using the services of Palantir, Microsoft and Amazon to track medical staff and resources to coordinate the UK's coronavirus response. Credit: Screenshot of ZDNET video.

Viewpoint by Ivan Manokha*

This article was originally published on openDemocracy. Any views or opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of IDN-InDepth News.

LONDON (IDN) – The current outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic may be seen as a litmus test for different institutions of contemporary society – the viability of production structures based on global value chains, the solidity of health systems built (or, rather, dismantled) in the period of neoliberalism, and, more generally, the ability of the ‘night-watchman’ neoliberal state to ensure the security and survival of the population.

Image credit: Australia TV's 60-minute programme.

Viewpoint by Kalinga Seneviratne*

SYDNEY (IDN) – With the spread of COVID-19 to Europe and the US a bout of Sinophobia seems to have infected the western media. On March 29, Australia's 60-minute program – that is well known for sensational reporting – broadcast a program that portrayed China as the villain of the COVID-19 pandemonium, and just stopped short of calling for war against China.

This reminded me of the propaganda that the Anglo-American media broadcast around the world about alleged 'weapons of mass destruction' that Saddam Hussein had, that led to the attack and invasion of Iraq in 2003.


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