NEW YORK: The United Nations on Wednesday launched a $2 billion plan to fight coronavirus in the world’s poorest countries countries, saying nobody was safe if such nations were left exposed.
“This is the moment to step up for the vulnerable,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said while unveiling the Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19.
The virus – which began in China and spread fast through Europe – is now penetrating Africa, Asia and Latin America, hitting countries that already face humanitarian crisis because of conflict, natural disasters and climate change.
Nations reeling from conflict, poverty and deficient health care will be unable to contain the coronavirus without significant international assistance, the UN chief said.
COVID-19 has killed more than 16,000 people worldwide and there are nearly 400,000 reported cases. It has a foothold across the globe and is now reaching countries that were already facing humanitarian crisis because of conflict, natural disasters and climate change.
The response plan will be implemented by UN agencies, with international NGOs and NGO consortia playing a direct role in the response.
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 how to protect yourself and others from the virus; and
— establish airbridges and hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to move humanitarian workers and supplies to where they are needed most.
In his remarks, Secretary-General Guterres said, : COVID-19 is menacing the whole of humanity – and so the whole of humanity must fight back. Individual country responses are not going to be enough.
“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. It is also crucial for combating the virus. This is the moment to step up for the vulnerable.”