Statement by Ambassador Ms. Rabab Fatima, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN at the Virtual Briefing by the Deputy Secretary-General to Member States on COVID-19 response by the UN on 9 April 2020

I thank you, DSG, for your comprehensive briefing. We deeply appreciate your regular engagement with the member states; and for your assurance of UNDS’ support as we confront this unprecedented crisis.

Covid-19 is having devastating impacts on our lives and our economies. It has exposed the glaring inadequacy of our preparedness to tackle an emergency of this magnitude and consequences. But as we confront this crisis, we draw strength from the solidarity and unity of purpose in the global community, and find it reassuring to have the UN bring us all together. I would like to commend the UN, for the timely measures and actions taken, and the dedicated work of the UNCTs on the ground in responding to the pandemic. We are especially grateful to WHO and the humanitarian agencies for their support and frontline work.

DSG – My delegation fully associates itself with the statement made by the chair of G77 and China. I would like to highlight briefly the vulnerabilities of the LDCs, LLDCs and the SIDS in this situation. The pandemic is exacerbating the existing vulnerabilities of these countries. Our countries are grappling with the dual challenges of this health emergency and the economic downfall, compounded by climate vulnerabilities. Our hard-won development gains are at stake as we divert resources to address the immediate health emergency. This will certainly hamper our progress towards achieving the SDGs.

The economies of LDCs will suffer as exports and remittances fall. Most LDCs’ export earnings are dependent either on commodity or manufactured goods and these have started falling due to the pandemic. The worst-hit will be the marginalized people of these countries, including women and children. Widespread joblessness looms large with serious human security crisis.

We will require short-medium-long term support from the bilateral and multilateral development partners, and more investment in the health sector including for reinforcing our health care infrastructure, access to equipments, kits and medicines. New medical and health-related technologies have to be made available to the LDCs at no or affordable costs. Failure to support such efforts will have grave consequences globally.

Besides, countries under serious debt stress must be provided waiver; and special and differential treatments to the LDCs must continue in this crisis period. New international support measures packages are also essential for the graduating LDCs.

In these extremely trying times, the UN and its Development System has a significant role in supporting these vulnerable countries. We wish to see the UNDS enhance its engagement and coordination with other development partners and donors, international financial institutions, regional bodies, and the private sector to stimulate their support to the vulnerable countries with innovative packages and financial instruments.

My delegation commends the UN’s response to this pandemic. The 2 billion-dollar Global HRP and the Response and Recovery Fund are timely steps, although much more is needed.

The COVID situation is a testing time for the efficacy of the ongoing UNDS reform process with its reinvigorated RC system and UNCT. A comprehensive interagency response is required to fulfill the objectives of the funds fully, quickly and in a demand-based manner in the target countries.

We thank the RC and UNCT in Bangladesh for developing the Bangladesh Covid-19 Response Plan in consultation with the Government. While our Government has announced several stimuli and recovery packages worth 8.6 billion USD, we hope that the Plan will complement the Government’s efforts and respond to our humanitarian needs as well as provide support for socio-economic recovery.

Bangladesh is all poised to graduate, and continue its march towards sustainable development. We will count on the UN’s support as well as that of global development partners, in the coming days in overcoming the setback created by the pandemic.

I thank you. And I wish everyone well.