An additional 8.3 million people will fall into poverty in the Arab region due to the Covid-19 outbreak, a UN agency warned on Wednesday.
Many Arab countries have recently adopted tighter restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of the new coronavirus that causes the potentially fatal respiratory disease.
The steps include shutdowns of businesses and lockdowns of residential areas.
The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, ESCWA, said in a statement that increased poverty could raise the number of undernourished people in the Arab world by some two million.
“The consequences of this crisis will be particularly severe on vulnerable groups, especially women and young adults, and those working in the informal sector who have no access to social protection and unemployment insurance,” Rola Dashti, the ESCWA Executive Secretary, said.
Dashto called on Arab countries to ensure a swift emergency response to protect their people from falling into poverty due to the impact of the virus.
“The regional emergency response must support national efforts and mobilize resources and expertise to protect the poor and vulnerable,” she added.
With today’s estimates, a total of 101.4 million people in the Arab region could be classified as poor, and 52 million as undernourished, according to the agency.
ESCWA comprises 18 Arab countries: Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Oman, the Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.