Landlocked Developing Countries Call for Action on COVID-19

NEW YORK 27 May 2020 – The coronavirus pandemic is much more than a health crisis that is resulting in significant socio-economic impacts affecting the ability of Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) to achieve the goals of the Vienna Programme of Action for LLDCs for the decade 2014-2024 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In a joint statement issued by Ambassadors of Landlocked Developing Countries at the United Nations, the group stress that if the impact of COVID-19 is not prevented or mitigated, it could have the effect of reversing the gains that have been made by the LLDCs on the SDGs and the LLDCs might be left behind.

Trucks line up at a border crossing.

Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) lack direct access to seaports, trade through multiple border crossings and typically face high-cost administrative, transit and border procedures. This makes the LLDCs be particularly vulnerable to cross-border restrictions and border closures, given their dependency on transit transport to access international markets.

The statement calls on LLDCs and transit countries to keep cross-border transport networks for goods and supply chains open, while protecting the safety of transport workers and citizens, to maintain the integration of LLDCs into world trade and ensure that critical goods and medical supplies needed to contain and combat the pandemic can reach LLDCs in a timely manner.

The call for action seeks support on six key points:

  • Development partners, the United Nations, the International Financial Institutions, and other international organizations should support LLDCs with the resources to prepare and respond to the health impact of COVID-19, including for strengthening national health systems and laboratories, purchasing of required medical supplies such as personal protective equipment, ventilators and strengthening of prevention measures, ensuring adequate, affordable and rapid supply of vaccines/immunization and relevant drugs related to COVID-19, when they are developed and for expanding social protection programmes and strengthening of social safety nets.

  • LLDCs and transit countries are encouraged to collaborate to keep cross-border transport corridors and transport networks open, while protecting public health, and ensure that border clearance procedures for medical equipment and basic goods and commodities to LLDCs are simplified and fast-tracked without delay or hinderance.
  • Development partners, United Nations and other international and regional organizations need to urgently step up capacity building and technical assistance to LLDCs in support of trade facilitation, transport services and logistics solutions to facilitate socio-economic response on the ground.

  • Development partners, the United Nations, the International Financial Institutions, and other international organizations are called on to support LLDCs to ensure full and unimpeded humanitarian access of those in need, in line with the commitment to leave no one behind, including increase humanitarian support to towards food security and livelihoods.

  • The international community should support the LLDCs with medical personnel or capacity building to ensure that medical personnel needs are met and provide technology, technical know-how and free license to manufacture antiretroviral drugs and vaccines, when they are developed and approved for mass use after necessary controlled clinical trials.

  • Support LLDCs with debt relief in order to free up liquidity and invest more in their health systems and economic recovery including through suspending debt repayments to international creditors, offering debt-to-health swaps channeling additional funds to health systems and financing regional development projects in exchange for debt relief should also be considered.

LLDCs are generally among the poorest of the developing countries with 17 of the LLDCs classified as least developed.

One-third of the population of LLDCs still live in extreme poverty and the average human development index of LLDCs lags behind the world average.

As the number of cases and deaths are rising in LLDCs, the health systems of LLDCs are among the weakest in the world and are also critically dependent on imported medical and pharmaceutical products.

The impacts of a combined COVID-19 health pandemic and a global recession could be disastrous for the world´s most vulnerable countries and will likely halt or potentially even reverse their progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.