World must act now to save 1.6 billion people from perishing

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UAE has rushed aid for the most vulnerable — other nations need to follow suit. More than 1.6 billion people around the world are in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed by the economic impact of COVID-19, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO). That number makes up nearly half of the global workforce of 3.3 billion people.

Of the total workforce, about 2 billion work in what’s called the “informal economy” — often on short-term contracts, in unorganised sectors of developing economies or self-employment. This critical section of the global workforce suffered a 60 per cent collapse in their wages in the first month of the coronavirus pandemic, the ILO warned last week.

The sector-wise numbers are even more staggering: the deepening economic crisis around world has left more than 500 million businesses facing high risks of serious disruption. Most of these enterprises operate in the hardest-hit economic sectors, including 232 million in the wholesale and retail sectors and 111 million in manufacturing industries. As the ILO Director-General Guy Ryder put it: “For millions of workers, no income means no food, no security and no future.” A combination of compassion and carefully calibrated economic reactivation can help win the war against COVID-19 and its devastating aftermath, not only for the 1.6 billion workers facing a grim future but also for the rest of the world.

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