The United Nations called today for a US$2.5-trillion aid package to help developing countries weather the COVID-19 pandemic, including debt cancellation and a health recovery “Marshal Plan”.

A report from the United Nations Conference on Trade, Investment and Development (UNCTAD) noted that the two-thirds of the global population who live in developing countries (excluding China) face “unprecedented economic damage” from the crisis.

In the two months since COVID-19 began spreading beyond China, developing countries have been hit hard by capital outflows, currency depreciations, and lost export earnings, notably from falling commodity prices and declining tourist revenues.

In most areas, the impact is worse than during the 2008 financial crisis, UNCTAD said.

The report was released as the number of cases soared past 700,000, including more than 33,500 deaths, and with nearly 3.4 billion people under lockdown.

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