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The world’s conflict zones at highest risk from Covid-19, think tank says


NEW DELHI: The global Covid-19 outbreak has the potential to wreak havoc on fragile states, spark widespread unrest and severely challenge international crisis management systems, says the International Crisis Group (ICG) in a report that points out seven trends that could define A post-Covid-19 world.

The report says the economic impact of restricting movement for months is likely to be devastating. “Lifting restrictions prematurely could put new spikes in infections at risk and require a return to isolation measures, further exacerbating the economic and political impact of the disease and requiring further injections of liquidity and fiscal stimulus by governments around the world, “he says.

The group of experts, specialized in international conflicts, identified seven areas of concern, the main one of which is that people from the countries affected by the conflict, whether they are at war or suffer its aftermath, are probably especially vulnerable to the outbreak of the crisis. disease. Libya, Venezuela, Iran and Gaza, everyone could see a peak. In addition to the difficulties in getting aid workers to the people at the right time, the deep distrust of governments makes it impossible to reach services for those affected. “Security obstacles are equally likely to hamper the Covid-19 response in places where hostilities continue. … The areas of active conflict with the highest immediate risk of a Covid-19 outbreak may be northwestern Syria, around the besieged enclave of Idlib and Yemen, “the report says.

ICG says the disease could “weaken the ability of international institutions to serve conflict-affected areas.” The WHO and other international officials fear that restrictions associated with the disease will hinder humanitarian supply chains. ” For example, the disease could affect crucial Afghan peace talks, planned as a follow-up to the February agreement between the United States and the Taliban.

Covid-19 could put a lot of emphasis on societies and political systems, creating the potential for further outbreaks of violence, ICG observes. The pandemic, for example, “precipitated a decrease in protests against Beijing in Hong Kong.”

“You can already see the first signs of social disorder. In Ukraine, protesters attacked buses carrying Ukrainian evacuees from Wuhan, China, in response to allegations that some carried the disease. Prison breaks have been reported in Venezuela, Brazil and Italy, with prisoners reacting violently to the new restrictions …, “adds the report, adding that governments that have close trade ties with China, especially some in Africa, feel the Pain from the slowdown emanating from the Wuhan outbreak.

The disease could also tempt political elites to exploit the crisis for their own ends: “solidify power at home or pursue their interests abroad.”

Some leaders, ICG observes, may also see Covid-19 as a cover to embark on foreign destabilizing adventures, either to deflect internal discontent or because they feel they will face little rejection in the midst of the global health crisis.

“A series of attacks on US targets by Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Iraq may well be part of a pre-existing effort by Tehran to expel the United States from the Middle East.”

China, the report says, “having to deal with the consequences of the initial outbreak, its early and costly decision to withhold information, and its own uneven response, and having sought on occasion to blame the United States for launching a campaign to Irresponsible misinformation, now sees the health crisis as an opportunity to gain influence over other states through humanitarian gestures. ”

However, the group sees rays of hope, from rivals uniting during the crisis: the United Arab Emirates sending aid to Iran, for example.

Times of India