Guterres called for greater investment in "universal health and education; social protection floors; and technology"
The coronavirus pandemic is "wreaking havoc" across Arab countries, the United Nations (UN) warned Thursday.
The UN said cases were rising alarmingly across the region, with 55 million people at risk from the virus and in need of humanitarian assistance, reports the CNN.
Among this group are 26 million refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), the UN said.
The organization's Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement that the pandemic had caused "an estimated 5 percent contraction in the [region's] economy," with "one-quarter of the population falling into poverty [and] 17 million jobs lost when 14.3 million adults of working age were already unemployed."
But Guterres said the crisis could "also be a moment for resolving long-standing conflicts and addressing structural weaknesses" and urged Arab countries to take rapid measures to face the crisis.
"Now is the time to take immediate measures to slow the spread of the disease, end the conflict and meet the urgent needs of the most vulnerable," he said.
Guterres called for greater investment in "universal health and education; social protection floors; and technology," with a particular focus on ensuring greater rights for women and more opportunities for the region's young people.
"Together, we can turn a crisis into an opportunity. It will be good for the region - and good for our world," he said.