COVID-19 increased vulnerabilities, terrorism risks: UN chief

While the world is battling the COVID-19 pandemic, terrorists may see it an opportunity to carry out attacks, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned at a meeting of the UNSC on the coronavirus crisis.“The pandemic poses a significant threat to the maintenance of international peace and security, potentially leading to an increase in social unrest and violence that would greatly undermine our ability to fight the disease,” Guterres said.

“The weaknesses and lack of preparedness exposed by this pandemic provide a window onto how a bio-terrorist attack might unfold, and may increase its risks. Non-state groups could gain access to virulent strains that could pose similar devastation to societies around the globe. Terrorist groups may see a window of opportunity to strike while the attention of most governments is turned towards the pandemic,” he said.

Guterres described the battle against COVID-19 as the “fight of a generation — and the raison d’etre of the United Nations itself.”The UNSC met on April 9 in a closed video-conference under the Presidency of the Dominican Republic to discuss the virus that killed nearly 100000 people of the more than a million infected worldwide.

According to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Centre, more than 1.6 million people have contracted the virus and over 95,000 people were killed so far. The UN chief said the crisis has hindered international, regional and national conflict resolution efforts.

I addition, the pandemic has exacerbating human rights challenges, particularly among the refugees and internally displaced persons.“We are seeing stigma, hate speech, and white supremacists and other extremists seeking to exploit the situation. We are witnessing discrimination in accessing health services. And there are growing manifestations of authoritarianism, including limits on the media, civic space and freedom of expression,” he added.

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