Coronavirus Politics Daily: Zimbabwe's plea, Gaza's unexpected boom, Bangladesh's terrible dilemma

Zimbabwe pleads for aid: Zimbabwe's government has appealed to international creditors for urgent help as it battles a rising COVID-19 caseload while lockdowns push its ailing economy to the brink of collapse. International lenders including the IMF and World Bank have snubbed the southern African country ever since it defaulted on debt repayments some two decades ago. Even before the pandemic, Zimbabwe's economy was in terrible shape as a result of decades of corruption, economic mismanagement, and recurrent droughts. The country's inflation rate is nearing 700 percent, and more than half of its 15 million people depend on food aid to survive. The government has reportedly appealed to organizations including the African Development Bank, European Investment Bank and the IMF to "normalize ties" and find a way to clear its old arrears so it can access urgently needed funding. But with demand for financial support surging as the pandemic plunges developing countries into unprecedented economic crises, it's unclear whether these international organizations will acquiesce.


An economic boost for Gaza: The coronavirus crisis has exposed political rifts between states, but it has also provided opportunities for cooperation between unlikely partners. This is precisely what's playing out between Israel and the Gaza Strip, where Israeli PPE merchants have flooded Gazan manufacturers with orders they can't fill quick enough. The demand has been a boon to the garment industry in Gaza which has long struggled to export reliably through tight Egyptian and Israeli border controls that were imposed after Hamas took power in the enclave in 2007. Many Gaza-based manufacturers are now hiring fast to meet the increased demand and have so far produced millions of masks and tens of thousands of gowns. But as the virus will pass, so too will the demand for protective gear. Israeli rights groups have called for the permanent easing of restrictions that govern entry in and out of the Gaza enclave, home to some 2 million people, so that the economy can function more normally even after the pandemic.

Bangladesh's garment factories reopen: After an eight-week hiatus, more than 2,000 garment factories in Bangladesh have reopened, causing thousands of people to crowd public transport and flood the streets of Dhaka, the capital, much to the chagrin of health experts who say the move is premature and puts low wage workers at risk. Bangladesh's COVID-19 caseload has surged in recent weeks, and now exceeds 10,000, likely a significant undercount because of its poor testing capacity. Indeed, for Bangladesh's leaders, it's a catch-22 between economic health and public health. When factories shuttered in March, around 1 million Bangladeshi workers lost their jobs, and the country, the world's second largest apparel exporter after China, has lost over $3 billion in export revenue. In a country where poverty is already widespread (one person in five lives below the poverty line) the economic fallout from the pandemic alone could be catastrophic. But prematurely sending workers back to crowded factories could fuel a surge in cases that would overwhelm the country's feeble healthcare system and prolong the crisis even further.

How much material do we use to send a package? Too much. Does recycling help? Yes – but not really. Packaging material often accumulates as waste, contributing to its own "polluting weight." To solve our packaging dilemma, Finland came up with RePack: a "circular" solution for the reuse of material.

Learn more about RePack in Eni's new Energy Superfacts series.

A steady increase of violence in the Sahel region of Africa over the past eight years has imposed fear and hardship on millions of the people who live there. It has also pushed the governments of Sahel countries to work together to fight terrorists.

The region's troubles have also captured the attention of European leaders, who worry that if instability there continues, it could generate a movement of migrants that might well dwarf the EU refugee crisis of 2015-2016.

But is Europe helping to make things better?

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Ian Bremmer's QuickTake:

It's Monday, coronavirus still going on. Plenty to talk about.

I mean, I guess the biggest news in the United States is the fact that we still don't have any stimulus going forward. I mean, now, keep in mind, this is on the back of an exceptionally strong initial US economic response, over 10% of GDP, ensuring relief for small businesses, for big corporations, and most importantly, for everyday American citizens, many of whom, large double digit numbers, lost their jobs, a lot of whom lost them permanently but didn't have to worry, at least in the near term, because they were getting cash from the government. Is that going to continue?

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Lebanon's government resigns: Lebanon's government resigned on Monday over last week's twin explosions at Beirut's port, which killed at least 160 people and shattered much of the city's downtown areas. After promising a thorough investigation into why dangerous explosives were stored at the port so close to civilian areas, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said he would step down in solidarity with the people." The people in question are furious. Thousands of Lebanese have taken to the streets in recent days demanding "revolution" and the resignation of a political class whose corruption and mismanagement had plunged the country into economic ruin even before last week's blasts. The international community, meanwhile, held a conference on Sunday and pledged $300 million in humanitarian aid to rebuild battered Beirut, with aid distribution to be coordinated by the UN. But the attendees, which included US President Donald Trump, the European Union, and the Gulf Arab states, said that the funds would not be released until the Lebanese government reforms its bloated, inefficient, and corrupt public sector. So far, Beirut's power brokers have resisted change. As rage on the streets intensifies — with angry protesters swarming the city center and setting public property and government buildings ablaze even after cabinet members resigned — it remains unclear who will run Lebanon going forward and guide the country's rebuilding process.

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"There have been more than 500 deaths of healthcare workers that we know of in this country and more than 80,000 infections of healthcare workers … These are mind-boggling numbers." Former CDC director Dr. Frieden on how the United States is failing the heroes who are fighting COVID-19 on the frontlines. The fact that many still don't have access to basic personal protective equipment this far into the public health crisis is not just unacceptable. It's a symptom of how deeply flawed our healthcare system is as a whole.