UN chief urges int’l community to stand in solidarity with people living in poverty

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses a high-level UN meeting to mark the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons at the UN headquarters in New York, on Oct. 2, 2020. (Rick Bajornas/UN Photo/Handout via Xinhua)

UNITED NATIONS,    (Xinhua) – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday called on the international community to stand in solidarity with people living in poverty.

“On the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, let’s stand in solidarity with people living in poverty, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” the UN chief said in his message to the international day, which falls on Oct. 17 annually .

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a double crisis for the world’s poorest people,” said the UN chief.

Workers wearing face masks work for food distribution provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) during the lockdown amid the COVID-19 outbreak, at a school in Al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, Oct. 8, 2020. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

“First, they have the highest risk of exposure to the virus, and least access to quality healthcare. Second, recent estimates show the pandemic could push up to 115 million people into poverty this year – the first increase in decades. Women are at greatest risk because they are more likely to lose their jobs, and less likely to have social protection,” the secretary-general elaborated.

“In these extraordinary times, we need extraordinary efforts to fight poverty. The pandemic demands strong collective action,” Guterres noted.

A local resident brings home the supply she received in the suburban district of Brasilia, capital of Brazil, Aug. 17, 2020.  (Photo by Lucio Tavora/Xinhua)

“Governments must accelerate economic transformation by investing in a green, sustainable recovery. We need a new generation of social protection programs that also cover people working in the informal economy,” he added.

In 1992, the United Nations officially designated Oct. 17 as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The day is observed each year throughout the world. This year’s theme is “Acting together to achieve social and environmental justice for all.”