Participation of Ambassador Dr. Mounir Zahran in the 2021 Virtual MENA Think Tank Summit
Ambassador Dr. Mounir Zahran, ECFA Chairman, focused on the global dimension of the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, in his speech at the first session of the virtual summit on “Think Tanks in the Middle East and North Africa” entitled: “The Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Middle East and North Africa: Continuity and Change”, dated November 23, 2021.
Ambassador Zahran pointed out that “our world today is facing many unprecedented political, economic and social challenges, as a result of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the end of World War II, contemporary human history has not witnessed a crisis of this magnitude, in terms of the breadth of its spread, the length of its duration, and its severity, which will have serious repercussions on international, regional and national systems in the coming years”. He also emphasized that the Covid-19 pandemic hit the stagnant and fragile economies – in macroeconomic terms – in the Middle East and North Africa region; as it imposed: the implementation of closure measures, the disruption of supply chains, the sharp decline in tourism revenues and labor remittances, and the volatility of oil prices. He stated that with few exceptions, the Middle East, North Africa and European countries experienced four waves of the pandemic. However, it is difficult to perform a comparative analysis across countries to measure the severity of infection; due to inadequate diagnostic and reporting systems, in some countries.
He explained that, however, and despite the data gap, it is reported that deaths per million people in the Middle East and North Africa are lower than in the United States, most of European and Latin American countries. It is noteworthy – in this regard – that Lebanon, Tunisia, Jordan, Iran and Palestine have recorded the highest death rate per million people, adding that we are facing one of the global economic crises…Unfortunately, in this regard, the UN Security Council failed to take action in 2020 to counter the Covid-19 pandemic, due to the differences that raged between the permanent members of the Security Council, especially because of the positions of the United States on the one hand, and China and Russia on the other. He noted that a statement issued by the United Nations, in New York on April 23, 2020, considered migrants, refugees and displaced persons to be the most vulnerable groups to the pandemic and of becoming victims of it; More than 131 countries closed their borders as a precautionary measure against the risks of the pandemic, while only 30 countries allowed exemptions for asylum seekers. Therefore, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in close coordination with the World Health Organization and other relevant UN agencies, including international financial institutions, should produce and strengthen supply networks in a transparent, equitable and efficient manner, as well as work to distribute the preventive tools and analyzes necessary to eliminate the Covid-19, including vaccines, with a view to making them available to all those in need, especially developing countries.