UN launches major humanitarian appeal to keep COVID-19 from ‘circling back around the globe’

To confront the unprecedented worldwide challenge posed by the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, top UN officials on Wednesday, launched a massive humanitarian appeal to mitigate its impact, particularly on fragile countries with weak health systems.

At a joint virtual press briefing, Secretary-General António Guterres, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Mark Lowcock, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Henrietta Fore and World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, launched a $2 billion coordinated global humanitarian response plan, to fight COVID-19 in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries in a bid to protect the millions most at risk.

‘Step up for the vulnerable’

Having gained a foothold in 195 countries with more than 400,000 reported cases and close to 20,000 reported deaths, COVID-19 is reaching more and more areas of the world grappling with conflict, natural disasters and climate change.

The UN chief stressed that a global approach is the only way to fight the coronavirus. 

“COVID-19 is menacing the whole of humanity – and so the whole of humanity must fight back”, he said, underscoring that “individual country responses are not going to be enough”.

Assisting the “ultra-vulnerable” – the millions upon millions of people who are least able to protect themselves – is not only “a matter of basic human solidarity” but also crucial for combating the virus, according to Mr. Guterres. 

“This is the moment to step up for the vulnerable”, he stated.

Organized by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the interagency plan brings together existing appeals from WHO and other UN partners as well as identifies new needs.

Properly funded, it will save many lives and arm humanitarian agencies with laboratory supplies for testing and medical equipment to treat the sick while protecting health care workers. 

“The plan also includes additional measures to support host communities that continue to generously open their homes and towns to refugees and displaced persons”, explained the Secretary-General.

He closed with the somber note that if funding aimed to stem the impact of COVID-19 in already vulnerable humanitarian contexts is diverted, “the consequences could be catastrophic”.

Tipping whole regions into chaos 

The UN humanitarian chief warned that failing to help vulnerable countries fight the coronavirus now could place millions at risk. 

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