More hunger, fewer children in school, and more conflicts around the world could come in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Erna Solberg (H) fears.
The gloomy prospects for the future will be a key issue when Norway, as an incoming member of the Security Council, participates in the UN General Assembly this week.
“With the coronavirus pandemic, the UN is facing its biggest global crisis ever,” Solberg said when she met the press on Tuesday, joined by Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide (H) and Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein (KrF).
For the first time in the UN’s 75-year history, the week will kick off digitally, and world leaders will be absent from New York.
“Not just a health crisis”
“It is important that we tackle the crisis not only as a health crisis but also as a global crisis that requires quite a lot of other things,” Solberg said.
Among other things, she points out to the fact that 500,000 seafarers are stranded around the world, which will have an effect on ship traffic in the future.
The consequences can be great for food supplies and international trade, especially for lower-income countries.
“We see that more (people) are back in absolute poverty. We may experience more hunger, conflict, and instability due to what is happening,” Solberg warned.
Warnings from the UN
Earlier this month, UN aid coordinator Mark Lowcock and UN political chief Rosemary DiCarlo issued the same warning.
Norway is also concerned that the pandemic could be used as an excuse to weaken human rights and democracy.
“Many states deliberately use the pandemic to curtail human rights. We also see that humanitarian crises are getting worse and worse in the wake of the pandemic,” Eriksen Søreide said.
As a UN Security Council member, one of Norway’s priorities will be to strengthen human rights and international legal order.
“The pandemic has made this an important issue,” the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs added.
A crisis for women
Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein pointed out that the coronavirus situation is particularly hard on girls.
Among other things, child marriage and teenage pregnancies have skyrocketed.
“The reports we are now getting related to the situation girls are in are many times worse than in the early summer. It is very worrying,” Ulstein said.
Solberg believes the coronavirus pandemic is a crisis for gender equality.
“Girls are hit the hardest, both in terms of reproductive rights, education, and violence against women. The progress has taken a step back,” she stated.
An educational crisis
“We are facing the most significant disruption of education systems in the world in modern times.
We know that schooling is absolutely crucial for development, and this will be taken up in our talks at the UN,” Ulstein noted.
At the same time, he fears that the coronavirus pandemic will overshadow other significant health challenges, such as measles, tuberculosis, and malaria.
“The fact that the distribution of mosquito nets has not been carried out as planned will take many lives,” he concluded.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today