United Nations, United States - The 193 members of the UN General Assembly on Monday adopted by consensus a resolution that calls for “equitable, efficient and timely” access to any future vaccines developed to fight coronavirus. The resolution also highlights the “crucial leading role” played by the World Health Organization, which has faced criticism from Washington and others about its handling of the pandemic. The resolution, which was drafted by Mexico and received US support, calls for strengthening the “scientific international cooperation necessary to combat COVID-19 and to bolster coordination,” including with the private sector.

World must act now to avert food crisis over virus: UN

ISTANBUL - Countries should act now to stop the COVID-19 pandemic transforming into a food crisis, the head of the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said on Monday. “The fallout from COVID-19 may push rural families even deeper into poverty, hunger and desperation, which is a real threat to global prosperity and stability,” Gilbert Houngbo noted. He asserted that immediate action can support rural people to provide rapid recovery and prevent a bigger humanitarian crisis. The IFAD launched a $40 million package to support farmers and rural communities, the fund said in a press release. It expects to raise this fund by $200 million with contributions from member states, foundations and the private sector. “Many small-scale farmers are unable to access markets to sell products or to buy inputs, such as seeds or fertilizer,” it recalled, adding: “As entire production chains are disrupted and unemployment rises, the most vulnerable include daily laborers, small businesses and informal workers, who are very often women and young people.” It also reminded that 80% of the poorest people globally live in rural areas, and, even before the pandemic, over 820 million people were going hungry every day. “A recent United Nations University study warned that in a worst-case scenario, the economic impact of the pandemic could push a further half-billion people into poverty,” it stressed. Meanwhile, experts say Turkey is a self-sufficient country in terms of food, especially agricultural production. Many major European countries, such as Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain, employ foreign people for agricultural production, but closing borders due to the pandemic will further hit these countries’ production. After originating in Wuhan, China last December, COVID-19 has spread to at least 185 countries and regions worldwide, with Europe and the U.S. the worst-hit regions. There are over 2.48 million cases worldwide and more than 170,400 deaths. Almost 653,000 have recovered from the virus, according to data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.