UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations said on Thursday that the COVID-19 crisis poses “a host of new challenges” to national authorities and collective response efforts are needed.
The nexus between terrorism and organized crime took center stage in the Security Council on Thursday, with UN officials raising fresh concerns over opportunistic alliances emerging among belligerents who share a hostility towards national authorities, and seek to exploit vulnerabilities created by the COVID-19 crisis.
“Comprehensive and cooperative responses are needed more than ever,” said Ghada Waly, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
“The COVID-19 crisis is raising a new set of challenges for national authorities, as criminals seek to exploit vulnerabilities created by lockdowns and shifting travel patterns. Building the capacities to deal with these threats is now a key part of UNODC’s focus,” she noted.
Vladimir Voronkov, head of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, told the virtual meeting that terrorists are exploiting the significant disruption and economic hardships caused by COVID-19 to spread fear, hate and division and radicalize and recruit new followers. The increase in internet usage and cybercrime during the pandemic further compounds the problem.
Both speakers highlighted the support of the United Nations to assist member states in implementing measures such as anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism, strengthening border security and more.
Voronkov concluded with a call to “continue our fight against terrorist groups and criminal networks to deny them the opportunity to exploit the COVID-19 crisis.”