UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council, under the presidency of China this month, has not yet scheduled any meeting to discuss the rapidly-escalating coronavirus crisis even as the number of COVID-19 cases across the world crossed 530,000 and over 24,000 people have died due to the disease.

The number of COVID-19 cases across the globe has skyrocketed to 531,860 and a total of 24,057 people have died so far. At 85,653, the US now has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, surpassing China and Italy. Nearly 13,00 people have died in the US due to the disease.

So far, there are 78 confirmed coronavirus cases among UN staff worldwide.

China’s presidency of the 15-nation Council will end on March 31 and no meeting is scheduled on the programme of work of the Security Council for March to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the rapidly deteriorating situation and the outbreak’s dire health, security and economic consequences on nations.

A UN diplomat told PTI that “the silence of the Council on an issue impacting human security in such a profound manner reflects that it is obviously not fit for purpose for the challenges of our times.”

The Security Council held a video-conference Thursday chaired by China’s Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun and discussed the work of United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

A statement issued by the Chinese Mission to UN after the meeting said that Council members “also expressed concern at the possible impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Libya and called on the parties to de-escalate the fighting urgently, to immediately cease hostilities and to ensure unhindered access of humanitarian aid throughout the country.” There was the only reference to the COVID-19 crisis in the entire statement.

The Dominican Republic will assume the Council Presidency for April.

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