Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 1 April 2020

UN launches $2 billion appeal to combat coronavirus

Secretary General Antonio Guterres urges the international community to unite

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during an update on the situation regarding the Covid-19 at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. AP
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during an update on the situation regarding the Covid-19 at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. AP

The UN on Wednesday announced the launch of a $2 billion (Dh73.4bn) appeal to battle the global coronavirus outbreak.

Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged the international community to unite as he launched a Global Humanitarian Response Plan to combat the pandemic.

“This is a moment for the world to come together to save lives and fight a common threat," Mr Guterres said.

"The only war we should be waging is that against Covid-19. If such funding is diverted then consequences would be catastrophic."

He said Covid-19 was “menacing the whole of humanity and so the whole of humanity must fight back".

“Individual country responses are not going to be enough,” Mr Guterres said.

Mark Lowcock, the UN's humanitarian chief, said the global appeal plan was an effort to address immediate humanitarian consequences of the epidemic across the world.

“It will consolidate existing Covid-19 appeal and be implemented by UN agencies," Mr Lowcock said.

"If properly funded it will help contain spread of virus and save lives."

The virus is spreading despite government efforts to curb it, killing more than 19,000 people, he said.

Mr Lowcock warned the consequences would be catastrophic if the virus spread across Syria.

The UN plan would allow its agencies to install hand-washing stations in camps and settlements, and launch public information campaigns on how people in vulnerable countries can protect themselves.

“We'll also be establishing air bridges and hubs for supplies across Africa, Asia and Latin America so that we can move humanitarian workers and supplies to where they are needed most,” Mr Lowcock said.

Henrietta Ford, executive director of the UN children’s agency, said children were the “hidden victims of the pandemic”.

Ms Ford said children would remain at risk if the public did not comply with health regulations.

“They are not able to go to school and remote learning is not an option to some households, especially in vulnerable areas,” she said.

“There is also an enormous amount of violence, both sexual and physical, on the children."

Unicef is appealing for $651 million in support from the international community to suppress the disease, especially in “weaker countries.”

The agency wants 55 million masks and other health equipment to keep medics and patients safe around the world.

Updated: March 26, 2020 01:01 AM

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