Over 4 Billion People Without Social Safety Net In 2020 Amid COVID-19 Pandemic - Report

GENEVA (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 01st September, 2021) More than four billion people received no form of security from their countries' social protection systems in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, a report published by the International Labour Organization (ILO) on Wednesday said.

"As of 2020, only 46.9 per cent of the global population were effectively covered by at least one social protection benefit ... , while the remaining 53.1 per cent - as many as 4.1 billion people - were left wholly unprotected," the report said.

Although there has been great progress in improving social protection across the world over recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic created a situation in which many countries still face challenges in providing every citizen with a social safety net, according to the ILO.

The report showed significant regional inequalities in social protection. Europe and Central Asia have the highest rates, as about 84% of people there received at least one benefit, while African countries have the lowest - only 17.4% of citizens were covered.

There is a large disparity in unemployment, medical, and retirement benefits among various countries. The problem is caused by a significant lack of investments in social security, especially in African, Asian and Arab countries, the report added.

According to ILO experts, increasing expenditures for social security systems will play a key role in restoring economies worldwide.

"There is an enormous push for countries to move to fiscal consolidation, after the massive public expenditure of their crisis response measures, but it would be seriously damaging to cut back on social protection; investment is required here and now," Shahra Razavi, the director of the ILO social protection department, said in a press release.

The ILO recommends saving all social protection measures introduced in response to the spread of COVID-19 until full restoration begins after the crisis ends.