UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has launched a 2-billion-dollar global humanitarian response plan to fight COVID-19 in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries.
UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and UN Children’s Fund Executive Director Henrietta Fore joined the launch on Wednesday, via video teleconference.
Guterres and heads of the UN agencies called on member states to work together to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus in vulnerable countries and support the response plan to contain the outbreak globally.
“We must come to the aid of the ultra-vulnerable – millions upon millions of people who are least able to protect themselves. This is a matter of basic human solidarity. And it is also crucial for combating the virus. The world is only as strong as our weakest health system. If we do not act decisively now, I fear the virus will establish a foothold in the most fragile countries, leaving the whole world vulnerable as it continues to circle the planet, paying no mind to borders,” said Guterres.
Lowcock announced the release of 60 million U.S. dollars from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to kick-start the response plan. The money will be used to support humanitarian workers and supplies to protect those most affected by the outbreak and to support water, health and sanitation services.
The plan will be coordinated by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which Lowcock heads.
The plan will deliver essential laboratory equipment to test for the virus, and medical supplies to treat people; install handwashing stations in camps and settlements; launch public information campaigns on prevention; and establish airbridges and hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to move humanitarian workers and supplies to where they are needed most, said Lowcock.
The COVID-19 global humanitarian response plan brings together requirements from the WHO, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Organization for Migration, the UN Development Programme, the UN Population Fund, UN-Habitat, the UN Refugee Agency, UNICEF and the World Food Programme.