The coronavirus pandemic threatens to wipe out more than 1.7 million jobs across the Arab world this year, the UN Economic Commission for Western Asia warned on Wednesday.
Arab nations’ gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to shrink by at least $42 billion in 2020, hit by plunging oil prices and virus-linked shutdowns, it said.
“More than 1.7 million jobs could be lost in 2020, with the unemployment rate increasing by 1.2 percentage points,” the report said.
“Unlike in the aftermath of the global 2008 financial crisis, employment is expected to be affected across all sectors.”
The International Labour Organization warned on Wednesday that globally the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to leave up to 25 million more people out of work.
The head of the World Health Organization has described the new coronavirus as an “enemy against humanity”, as the number of people infected in the pandemic soared past 200,000.
Worldwide fatalities topped 8,000 and more deaths have now been recorded in Europe, the new virus epicentre, than in Asia since the outbreak first emerged in China in December.
“This coronavirus is presenting us with an unprecedented threat,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists in a virtual news conference.
He stressed the need for countries everywhere to “come together as one against a common enemy: an enemy against humanity.”