COVID-19 support to poor nations has so far been “grossly inadequate and that’s dangerously shortsighted,” UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said on Thursday, as he asked wealthy nations for billions more dollars in assistance.
The UN increased its humanitarian appeal by more than one-third to US$10.3 billion to help 63 states, mainly in Africa and Latin America, tackle the spread and destabilizing effects of the pandemic.
That was up from the UN’s initial US$2 billion request in March, then US$6.7 billion in May.
So far, Lowcock said, the UN had only received US$1.7 billion.
As G20 finance ministers prepared to meet via videoconference today, Lowcock told reporters: “The message to the G20 is step up now or pay the price later.”
The coronavirus has infected more than 13.8 million people and there have been almost 590,000 known deaths worldwide. The UN has said that if action is not taken, the pandemic and associated global recession would trigger an increase in global poverty for the first time since 1990 and push 265 million people to the brink of starvation.
“The response so far of wealthy nations, who’ve rightly thrown out the fiscal and monetary rule books to protect their own people and economies, the response that they’ve made to the situations in other countries has been grossly inadequate and that’s dangerously shortsighted,” Lowcock said.
Lowcock added that he had lobbied US lawmakers for funding earlier this week.
A US House of Representatives committee has proposed US$10 billion in international aid. So far, US Congress has provided US$2.4 billion in emergency foreign aid.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in May pledged US$2 billion to help deal with COVID-19, and economic and social development in affected nations, especially developing states.
Lowcock said that he would “very much welcome it if some significant proportion of those resources could be used directly to support the global humanitarian response plan.”
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