Coronavirus: what support does the south need?
Now that most European countries have significantly eased the measures to contain Covid-19, Europe is starting to relax. But in the countries of the southern hemisphere, most of which were not affected by the pandemic until later, the curve is in many cases still rising, with considerable disparities in the number of infections. What are their specific problems and what can Europe do for them?
Authoritarian concealment distorting the figures
Uncertainty about the actual number of cases is another problem in assessing how serious the situation is in the southern hemisphere, explains Corriere della Sera:
“A study of coronavirus deaths in more than a hundred countries shows that the information provided by dozens of authoritarian countries on Covid-19 does not reflect the truth. ... [Brazil's president] Bolsonaro appears to be just part of a larger phenomenon. It is therefore likely that there are many more coronavirus deaths worldwide today than the statistics indicate. And the censorship of lethality data could only be the tip of the iceberg of a greater intransparency on the part of authoritarian regimes regarding the spread of the virus and the countermeasures taken.”
Pandemic helping the terrorists
The African Union has observed an increase in terrorist attacks - for example in the Sahel, the Chad Basin and Somalia. The virus could actually act as an accelerant in poor countries with weak states, warns the Süddeutsche Zeitung:
“Insurgents can intervene where the government fails to provide medicine, water and food, and thus win the support of the population for their cause. Filling the vacuum that the state leaves behind has been the hallmark of modern Islamism since its beginnings in the early 20th century. What the terrorists need is popular consent. To gain this they build on aversion to the government or foreign troops. In order to buy this they exploit structural weaknesses of the state - and in times like these they are even more successful than usual.”
Now we must support other continents
Gazeta Wyborcza calls on European states to help poorer countries:
“It's clear that the rich cannot ignore the raging epidemic on other continents. As recently as February, the West showed sympathy with China but saw the virus as a local problem. But then it quickly became clear how big this mistake was. It's possible to keep borders closed, but in a (still) globalised world this is an insufficient and short-term response. Once Europe has recovered and no longer has to worry so much about itself it must help others to save themselves from the pandemic and ruin - also in its own interest.”
Debt relief for Africa!
Africa cannot cope with the economic consequences of the pandemic without help from the West, Helsingin Sanomat fears:
“The economic consequences of the pandemic are much deadlier in Africa than in the West, and are probably more deadly than the pandemic itself. The continent exports raw materials, agricultural products and oil. The demand for these goods and their prices have fallen. Africa also needs foreign investment and tourism revenues. ... The wealthy countries were able to get through the pandemic by injecting funds. The states in Africa don't have this luxury, so the deadly, extreme poverty is now rising again. It would already be a help to many countries if their debt ratios were reduced by debt relief and credit payments were temporarily frozen.”