Sat | Mar 28, 2020

UN chief urges $2 billion for vulnerable nations with virus

Published:Thursday | March 26, 2020 | 3:48 PM
In this February 24, 2020, file photo, United Nations 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. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched a $2 billion appeal on Wednesday to help vulnerable and conflict-torn countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and South America tackle the coronavirus pandemic and prevent COVID-19 from again circling the globe.

The UN chief called the amount a “drop in the ocean,” noting that the US Senate is seeking $2 trillion — “1,000 times more” — for the US economy.

UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock announced a $60 million contribution from the UN’s emergency relief fund to kick-start the appeal.

Guterres said the $2 billion is essential to keep economies in the developing world going so their health systems remain afloat to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the money will also help countries already in the midst of a humanitarian crisis caused by conflicts, natural disasters and climate change.

These people have been forced to flee their homes, have no space to socially distance or isolate, and lack clean water and soap to wash their hands to protect against the virus, he said.

If they become critically ill, Guterres said, there is no health care that can provide a hospital bed and a ventilator.

“We must come to the aid of the ultra-vulnerable – millions upon millions of people who are least able to protect themselves,” the secretary-general stressed.

“This is a matter of basic human solidarity. It is also crucial for combating the virus.”

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