United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday launched a COVID-19 “Global Humanitarian Response Plan.” The plan, obtained by CBS News, calls for a $2 billion fund to aid countries in most need.
“COVID-19 is menacing the whole of humanity — and so the whole of humanity must fight back,” said Guterres, who was joined by the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock, World Health Organization chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
“Individual country responses are not going to be enough. Wealthy countries with strong health systems are buckling under the pressure,” noted Guterres. “Now, the virus is arriving in countries already in the midst of humanitarian crises caused by conflicts, natural disasters and climate change.”
Lowcock warned that diverting aid from existing programs that deal with malnutrition and other diseases could create “a perfect breeding ground” for extremism in countries already torn by conflict.
Calling on all member states to contribute to the new plan, Guterres said that, “properly funded,” the U.N. effort would “save many lives and arm humanitarian agencies and NGOs with laboratory supplies for testing, and with medical equipment to treat the sick while protecting health care workers.”
In response to a question from CBS News, Guterres said the U.N.’s request for $2 billion was a “drop in the ocean” compared to the $2 trillion domestic relief package being hashed out in the U.S.
— Pamela Falk and Tucker Reals