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UN chief: COVID-19 has put spotlight on injustices

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said COVID-19 had put the spotlight on injustices.

FILE: Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres takes part in the Global Climate Action High-Level event at the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 at the 'IFEMA - Feria de Madrid' exhibition centre, in Madrid, on 11 December 2019. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the world must reckon with the reality that the global political and social system had not delivered on critical goods.

Guterres said the coronavirus pandemic demonstrated the fragility of our world. He delivered the 18th annual Nelson Mandela Lecture on Saturday, under the theme ‘Tackling the Inequality Pandemic: A New Social Contract for a New Era’.

The virtual lecture was organised by the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Guterres said COVID-19 had put the spotlight on injustices.

“Economies are in free fall and we have been brought to our knees by a microscopic virus. The pandemic has demonstrated the fragility of our world and laid bare the risks we have ignored for decades in our systems, social protection, structural inequalities, environmental degradation and the climate crisis.”

He said the economic impact of the global pandemic affected the vulnerable the most.

“We face the biggest recession since World War ll and the broadest collapse of income since 1870. One hundred million more people will be pushed into extreme poverty and we will see famines of historic proportions.”

Guterres said the pandemic had exposed fallacies accepted in societies across the world.

“There are falsehoods everywhere. The lie that free markets can deliver healthcare for all… the illusion that we live in a post-racist world and the belief that we’re all in the same boat. We are all floating on the same sea, but some are in super yachts & others clinging to drifting debris.”

WATCH: Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture

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