A Message from NAFS on COVID-19

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Dear Partners,                                                                                                                                  
We would like to extend to you and your loved ones our sincere wishes for safety and good health amidst this unprecedented world health crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.  The NAFS team also would like to express its deep solidarity with those who are affected by this disease, wishing them a speedy recovery.


Within this difficult context, NAFS would like to take this opportunity to inform you that it is continuing the implementation of its work despite the current circumstances that dictate work from home. NAFS is also planning on resuming its dialogue activities through the various media platforms available and will reach out to you for your support and collaboration.


Unfortunately, this crisis has not only caused death and suffering, but has also had tremendous socioeconomic impacts on the countries of the world which will have long-term repercussions.


UN ESCWA has conducted several rapid assessments to the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 on the Arab region and showed that Arab States’ gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to decline by at least $42 billion in 2020. The figure could be higher, with the compounding effect of low oil prices and the dramatic slowdown of economies due to the closure of public institutions and private sector enterprises starting mid-March. The longer the lockdown, the higher the cost on the economies of the region.


As such, more than 1.7 million jobs could be lost in 2020, with the unemployment rate increasing by 1.2 percentage points. Unlike in the aftermath of the global 2008 financial crisis, employment is expected to be affected across all sectors. The services sector, the region’s main employment provider, is particularly hit due to ‘social distancing’. Estimates point to a reduction by half of service-sector activities.


Looking at these findings, the Executive Secretary of the UNESCWA in Beirut, Dr. Rola Dashti, has stated that “Policy solutions and swift actions are needed to trigger recovery, based on a comprehensive and integrative approach that leaves no one behind.”


Indeed, ESCWA recommends that Governments adopt coordinated support measures at the macro and micro levels, the first of which should target enhancing social protection, especially for the poor and vulnerable. Government fiscal policy should also be targeted towards supporting businesses, including through extension of tax exemptions, wage subsidies, deferment of debt obligations, and support to small and medium enterprises. ESCWA also calls on multilateral financial organizations to support least developed and vulnerable countries confronted with fiscal pressures.


NAFS Programme is also preparing two notes on the impact of COVID-19 crisis on the Syrian economy and food security and they will be shared with you shortly.


You can read more on this analysis on our website:
https://www.unescwa.org/publications/socioeconomic-impact-covid-19-policy-briefs 


Stay safe and healthy
 

COVID-19
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