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Photo: The jobless in Malaysia. Source: Malay Mail.

By Jaya Ramachandran

GENEVA (IDN) — A once-in-a-century crisis—a Great Disruption unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemichit the world economy in 2020. The pandemic has reached every corner of the globe. Meanwhile, more than 120 million have been infected and close to 2.7 million people killed worldwide.

High unemployment and loss of income have pushed millions into destitution during the pandemic. The total number of people living in poverty is expected to have increased by 131 million in 2020 alone. As many as 797 million people will still be trapped in extreme poverty in 2030, representing a poverty headcount ratio of over 9 per cent.

Photo: In this photo from Friday, August 14, 2020, protesters supported by New Orleans Workers Group march in support of African asylum seekers — many of them from Cameroon -- who've been conducting hunger strike at the Pine Prairie ICE Procession Center in Evangeline Parish. (Photo by Jason Kerzinski) Source: Louisiana Illuminator

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK (IDN) — A plane carrying Cameroonian, Angolan and Congolese asylum seekers due to take off from Alexandria, Louisiana, was cancelled with minutes to spare after advocacy groups published affidavits by detainees of torture by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

The affidavits listed a host of violent tactics ICE officials had reportedly used to pressure the detainees to submit to their deportation. ICE agents were accused of choking, beating, and forcing the asylum seekers to agree to expulsion by threatening them placement in Covid-19 wards.

The following is the text of 2021 United Nations New Year's message delivered by Secretary-General António Guterres.

NEW YORK (IDN) – 2020 has been a year of trials, tragedies and tears.

COVID-19 upended our lives and plunged the world into suffering and grief.

Photo:Silverton Hotel by Kalinga Seneviratne | IDN-INPS

By Kalinga Seneviratne

SILVERTON (IDN) – With over 9.3 million international visitors spending close to $34 billion in Australia last year, Tourism Australia’s executive director Bob East predicted a rosy picture for the county' tourism sector, in its annual report for 2018-19 released at the beginning of this year. He said the sector has seen “exceptional achievements” in the past year, and thousands of tourism operators are “making a good living from a strong and sustainable industry”.

Even before the rosy report could be properly distributed, the tourism sector came crashing down, when Australia became the first country in the world to seal its borders in January this year. It was just before the peak of the international visitor arrivals during the lunar new year holidays in Asia.

Image credit: UNCTAD

By Ramesh Jaura

BERLIN | GENEVA (IDN) – UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi has stressed the need to address the frailties of globalization that led to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and its uneven economic impacts, gravely wounding the world economy with serious consequences for everyone. He hopes that the situation would prove to be 'course-altering' and a catalyst for change. "We need to reshape global production networks and reset multilateral cooperation for the better," he says.

Photo: The virus highlighted the world’s structural dependence on cheap, exploitable labour. Source:

Viewpoint by Randall Hansen*

TORONTO (IDN) – In November 2019, a federal government official visited the University of Toronto’s Munk School and asked its faculty to delineate coming global threats. We spoke of inequality, hunger, climate change, sanitation, and plastic pollution, among others. No one mentioned a microbe; a discussion of the threat of immunity to antibiotics was as close as we got.

Four months later, everyone in that room was under lockdown. COVID-19 hit the world as a freight train hits a car stalled at a railroad crossing. The virus has shredded the rhythm of our daily lives, and it will reconfigure our economies and politics.

Photo: UN ESCAP Executive Secretary Ms Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana against the backdrop of web slider Regional Conversation Series on Building Back Better. Collage IDN-INPS

Viewpoint by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

The writer is the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

BANGKOK (IDN) – As the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the length and breadth of Asia and the Pacific, finance ministries are continuing their relentless efforts to inject trillions of dollars for emergency health responses and fiscal packages. With continued lockdown measures and restricted borders, economic rebound seems uncertain.

Image: Part of the Cover of the UNDP South Africa report.

By Devendra Kamarajan

JOHANNESBURG (IDN) – The COVID-19 pandemic will push South Africa's overall GDP down by 7.9% in 2020 leading to major setbacks in addressing poverty, unemployment and inequality, the government's development priorities, according to new research by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The study expects the economy to recover slowly through 2024.

Photo source:

By Kalinga Seneviratne

SYDNEY (IDN) – As a serious second wave of COVID-19 with higher daily rates of infections than in March has infected Australia, where some five million people in Melbourne are under lockdown, the Premier of the worst affected Victoria State, Daniel Andrews, has blamed the situation on insecure jobs.

Andrews told a daily media briefing on July 22 that a large proportion of people leaving their homes while sick were in insecure work and had been forced to choose between self-isolation or being paid. Out of the 3,810 cases recorded in the state between July 7 and July 21, 3,400 people felt ill but continued to go to work before undergoing testing.

Photo: Factory workers in an assembly line in Cambodia. Credit: ILO/Marcel Crozet

By Jaya Ramachandran

GENEVA (IDN) – The world of work is deeply suffering from the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. Almost all of the planet's workers, some 94 per cent, were living in countries with some type of workplace closure measures in place in May 2020, according to the UN Secretary-General's Policy Brief on the World of Work and COVID-19 prepared with the International Labour Organization (ILO).

UN Chief António Guterres has, therefore, called for a three-phased response to the situation.

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