UN announces $2 billion response package to fight coronavirus

Politics

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The United Nations on Wednesday announced a $2 billion global response package to fight the coronavirus pandemic in countries that leaders say may not have the resources themselves to combat the virus.

“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,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video message.

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The package will be coordinated by the body’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). National governments will be urged to commit to the plan, while keeping up their existing funding to a plethora of U.N. projects and funds.

“Properly funded, it will save lives and arm humanitarian agencies and NGOs with laboratory supplies for testing and with better equipment to treat the sick while protecting healthcare workers,” Guterres said. “The plan includes additional measures to support communities who open their homes and towns to refugees and displaced persons.”

The plan also includes public information campaigns as well as hubs in Africa, Asia and Latin America to move humanitarian workers and supplies to where they are needed.

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It comes amid increasingly urgent warnings from world leaders about the scale of the crisis, particularly if it spreads to poorer countries. Guterres warned that “the world is only as strong as our weakest health system.” It comes a day after Guterres called for a “complete, immediate nationwide ceasefire” throughout Syria to fight the virus in that country as well.

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The announcement of the package was held via videoconference and published online.

The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday used a similar forum, holding its first briefings via videoconference on the peacekeeping mission in Congo.

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