A Bangladeshi young man died from coronavirus in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
The deceased was identified as Mohammad Hasan, 38, son of Liakat Ali of Chakfarani Durober para of Borohatia union of Lohagara upazila.
Hasan’s younger brother Helal Uddin, said Hasan used to work in a market in Madina Taiba. He caught fever and cold six days ago and then he was hospitalized.
His cousin, who also works in Madina, informed about Hasan’s death over phone today, Helal said.
The global death toll from COVID-19 disease caused by coronavirus jumped to 37,814 as of Tuesday.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, on Tuesday detailed a series of measures it is taking in its field operations to help respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency and prevent further spread.
“I am deeply concerned at this unprecedented pandemic and its impact on refugees and their host communities. The COVID-19 crisis has already had significant consequences for our operations, forcing us to rapidly adjust the way we work. However, we are sparing no effort to help and protect refugees the best we can under these difficult circumstances,’’ said Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
He said their top priority in the COVID-19 crisis is to ensure that the people they serve are included in response plans and are properly informed, while they supplement the governments' preparedness and response efforts wherever needed.
On March 26, UNHCR called for $255 million as part of the wider UN appeal, to focus on priority countries that will require specific action, according to a media release issued from Geneva on Tuesday.
In Bangladesh, training has started for staff working in health facilities serving the Rohingya camps, where some 850,000 refugees live in very dense conditions. More than 2,000 refugee volunteers are working with community and religious leaders to communicate important prevention measures.
This is complemented by radio spots, video, posters and leaflets in Rohingya, Burmese and Bengali languages, according to UNHCR.
Additional measures, including ensuring soap and water are accessible to all and increasing the number of hand washing facilities, are underway.
Support for the creation of new isolation and treatment facilities for refugees and surrounding host community is also ongoing.
Although the number of reported and confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection among refugees remains low, over 80 percent of the world’s refugee population and nearly all the internally displaced people live in low to middle-income countries, many of which have weaker health, water and sanitation systems and need urgent support.
Many refugees live in densely populated camps or in poorer urban areas with inadequate health infrastructure and WASH – water, sanitation and hygiene – facilities. Prevention in these locations is of paramount importance, noted Grandi.
Measures UNHCR is taking include reinforcing the health and WASH systems and services, including by distributing soap and increasing access to water; supporting governments with infection prevention and healthcare response, including through the provision of medical equipment and supplies; distributing shelter material and core relief items; offering guidance and fact-based information on prevention measures; expanding cash assistance to help mitigate the negative socio-economic impact of COVID-19; enhancing monitoring and interventions to ensure the rights of forcibly displaced people are respected.
UNHCR is also working with UN partners to find solutions to logistical challenges resulting from disrupted manufacturing capacity and border closures.
This includes stepping up local and regional procurement and organising air bridges. Over 100 tonnes of emergency and medical aid were recently airlifted to Chad and Iran.
“We will continue to expand our critical interventions on the ground. But to do this, we need timely and unearmarked financial support now, including to ongoing humanitarian operations. Coordinated international support is in our common interest and absolutely critical,” said Grandi.
The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has called for a $2.5 trillion assistance package for developing countries, whose populations face unprecedented economic damage from the COVID-19 crisis.
The consequences of a combined health pandemic and a global recession will be catastrophic for many developing countries and halt their progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, Spokesperson for the UN Secretary General Stephane Dujarric said at a briefing on Monday.
UNCTAD proposes a strategy that would include the injection of liquidity, debt relief, and a strong recovery plan, he said.
The UN Development Programme said the growing COVID-19 crisis threatens disproportionately to hit developing countries, not only in short term but over the months and years to come.
UNDP said the income losses are expected to exceed $220 billion in developing countries, and nearly half of all jobs in Africa could be lost.
With an estimated 55 per cent of the global population having no access to social protection, these losses will reverberate across societies, impacting education, human rights and, in the most severe cases, basic food security and nutrition.
UNDP, in coordination with the World Health Organization, is already working to support health systems in countries including Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Djibouti, El Salvador, Eritrea, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Nigeria, Paraguay, Panama, Serbia, Ukraine and Vietnam.
In the longer term, UNDP will work with countries to assess the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 and take urgent recovery measures to minimise long-term impact, said the Spokesperson for the UN chief.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) warned that COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the world’s inequalities and threatening to deepen them.
Some groups, such as migrant workers and workers in the informal economy, are particularly affected by the economic consequences of the virus, and women are especially exposed.
Across the world, 2 billion workers are in informal employment.
ILO emphasised that policy responses must ensure that support reaches the workers and enterprises who need it most, including low-wage workers, the self-employed and many other vulnerable people.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday held a video conference with the heads of all of India’s Embassies and High Commissions worldwide and emphasised that the unity and alertness of all Indians would help safeguard the nation’s future.
Prime Minister Modi emphasised that India’s Missions abroad may well be far from home, but they remain full participants in India’s fight against COVID-19.
The heads of Mission in India's neighbourhood, underlined measures to assist the national responses of those countries, using the special fund created at India’s initiative for SAARC countries to combat COVID-19.
The heads of Mission also expressed gratitude for the guidance and inspiration from Prime Minister Modi for their work, said the Indian High Commission in Dhaka.
The conference—the first such event for Indian Missions worldwide—was convened to discuss responses to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister Modi noted that extraordinary times require extraordinary solutions, which was why even in this globalised era, most of the world had quarantined itself.
"This was an unavoidable step taken to fight this pandemic, but it was also hugely consequential, as the closure of the globalised system has had an extensive and far-reaching impact upon the international transport system, financial markets and the global economy," he said.
Prime Minister Modi said India had taken unprecedented and early steps in response to this pandemic from mid-January this year, to reduce the risk of importing the infection, and thereafter to prevent a large outbreak. "This included the world’s largest quarantine and lockdown, implemented by India."
The Prime Minister Modi complimented heads of Mission for their efforts to evacuate Indians stranded abroad in some of the epicentres of the crisis.
He also exhorted them to take steps on five specific counts:
I. To ensure their own health and safety, and that of their teams and families;
ii. To attend to Indians who remain in various foreign countries, given the uncertainty of continuing international travel restrictions. He called on Heads of Indian Missions to help boost the morale of such compatriots abroad, and to help them address issues arising from their unplanned stay abroad, with their host Governments, and also to address other problems Indians might face abroad, including arranging shelter, where necessary and feasible;
iii. To stay alert and identify in their countries of accreditation best practices, innovations, scientific breakthroughs and sources to procure medical equipment, for India’s fight against COVID-19. He also advised Heads of Mission to suitably publicize the newly-established PM-CARES Fund to mobilize donations from abroad;
iv. Since this crisis also impacts upon the economy, PM advised Heads of Mission to also focus on ensuring that commerce in essential supplies, logistics chains, remittances and so on are unaffected, through their coordination with foreign partners;
v. To continue to pay close attention to the evolving international political and economic situation, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response, ten Heads of Mission, in Beijing, Washington DC, Tehran, Rome, Berlin, Kathmandu, Abu Dhabi, Kabul, Male, and Seoul offered their perspectives to Prime Minister Modi and the rest of the audience.
They shared feedback regarding appreciation in their countries of accreditation of the resolute measures taken by India to combat this pandemic.
The heads of Missions outlined their efforts to help Indians stranded abroad, in particular, students and workers.
They also reported efforts to identify medicine, medical devices, technologies, research and other measures which might help in India’s own national effort to fight this pandemic.
The heads of Mission also reported lessons learned in other countries, and their best practices, in the global fight against COVID-19.
An effort to withdraw Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) by the European Union (EU) against Bangladesh has failed as a closing note says "no maladministration is found".
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) welcomed the decision.
"It's very good news for us," said BGMEA President Rubana Huq in an immediate reaction.
Bangladesh enjoys duty-free market access to the European market under ‘Everything but Arms (EBA)’ facilities.
Rubana said Bangladesh, through this decision, got rid of labour abuse perception. "We think truth always wins," she told UNB.
The BGMEA chief said Bangladesh has been facing criticisms for long on labour issues and four labour unions informed the European Commission claiming that Bangladesh's RMG sector does not fulfil the obligations on labour fronts.
The relevant case was opened on July 22, 2019 and the decision came on March 24, 2020.
The case concerned the actions taken by the European Commission regarding Bangladesh in the context of the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences.
The complainants considered that Bangladesh does not fully respect fundamental labour rights and that, therefore, the Commission should start the procedure allowing it to withdraw Bangladesh’s trade preferences under the scheme.
The Commission informed the Ombudsman of how it has engaged with Bangladesh on the issue so far and the actions it has taken.
It said that it may decide to withdraw Bangladesh’s trade preferences as a measure of last resort.
The decision as to whether or not to launch a withdrawal procedure involves complex policy judgments.
The Commission has a broad margin of discretion in determining when to do so.
The Ombudsman took the view that the explanations the Commission had provided for its chosen course of action were reasonable.
The inquiry was closed with a finding of no maladministration, according to European Ombudsman office.