Review of the UNDP COVID-19 response in the Arab States

Review of the UNDP COVID-19 response in the Arab States

Dec 28, 2021

The Arab region recorded its first COVID-19 case on the 29 January 2020 (in the in the United Arab Emirates [UAE]). One year on, by 29 January 2021, over 3.7 million cases and 64,169 fatalities had been reported.

The Arab States entered the pandemic with significant variations in health preparedness, human development, fiscal and governance capacity, and levels of economic development. Governments responded to the pandemic with immediate measures to support health care and to contain the spread of the virus, with government spending on health and emergency social protection varying relative to resources available.

The direct and indirect effects of the pandemic have had negative impacts on livelihoods and access to services (for instance, access to chronic health care treatment, maternity care, vaccinations and remote learning following school closures) especially for the poorest and most vulnerable. The pandemic has had particular impacts on informal sector workers, the poor, people with disabilities, migrants, refugees and and internally displaced persons (IDPs), many of whom are not covered by or provided with adequate social protection. There have also been significant gendered impacts, with women experiencing increases in unpaid care work, loss of income and greater risk of gender-based violence.

The impacts were further compounded by the simultaneous fall in the global oil price, which had a direct effect on the governments and citizens of oil-exporting countries, and an indirect effect on the livelihoods of migrant workers and households dependent on remittances.

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