UN calls on global community to fund emergency supply lines

UN appeals to donors to support its Global Humanitarian Response Plan launched in March to fight COVID-19.

    The WFP is setting up vital logistics to help stop the spread of the virus, said the letter [File: Brian Snyder/Reuters]
    The WFP is setting up vital logistics to help stop the spread of the virus, said the letter [File: Brian Snyder/Reuters]

    The United Nations made an urgent appeal to the global community for funding to support an emergency supply system to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

    In a letter signed by the heads of various UN bodies on Sunday, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) called on all the "donor community" to contribute towards the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan, which was launched by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on March 25.

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    To date, only $550m of the $2bn fundraising target has been raised.

    The letter said the Central Emergency Response Fund released $95m to support the pandemic response plan, while the World Food Programme (WFP) was setting up vital logistics systems to help stop the spread of the virus. 

    "WFP now urgently needs additional funding to establish the necessary transport hubs, charter vessels and provide aircraft for cargo, health workers and other essential staff," said the letter, in an appeal for more financial support.

    It called for an initial $350m to enable a scale-up of logistics - including shipping cargo services, equipping consolidation hubs, medical evaluation, infrastructure and construction of treatment centres - which the WFP would set up to allow for a swifter response to COVID-19 across the world. 

    "All elements of the Global Humanitarian Response Plan are crucial and need continued funding, but without these logistics common services the global response could stutter to a halt," said the letter. "Now is not the time to slow down." 

    The appeal comes days after US President Donald Trump instructed his administration to temporarily halt funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

    In an address last week, Trump said the WHO had "failed in its basic duty and it must be held accountable".

    The US is the biggest donor to the Geneva-based WHO, contributing more than $400m in 2019, roughly 15 percent of its budget.

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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News