A “global humanitarian Plan” in response to the Covid-19 pandemic: the UN aims to support particularly vulnerable countries and populations in the fight against the Corona Virus. The Plan identifies a total of 38 states. In order to receive help, two out of four criteria must be met:
states were already dependent on UN humanitarian aid programmes as a result of (civil)wars, natural disasters or global warming before the start of the corona crisis;
the health system in these countries is inadequate;
in the countries there are large populations of refugees and internally displaced persons;
the number of Corona-infected and dead persons registered by the deadline of 20 March was particularly high in these countries.
Africa, but also Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Afghanistan
In addition to 21 states on the black African continent, the Plan names Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Iran in the Middle East; Afghanistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh and North Korea in Asia; Venezuela, Haiti and Colombia in Latin America; and Ukraine in Europe.
These countries should now be provided “immediately” with laboratory equipment for Corona Tests, medical equipment for the treatment of patients and protective masks. To this end, supply camps will be set up in Africa, Asia and Latin America and air bridges will be organised for the Transport of humanitarian workers and medical goods. The Plan also includes information campaigns on measures to protect against Coronavirus and the Installation of hand-washing facilities in all camps and shelters for Refugees and internally displaced persons.
Fast it must go
The global Plan is to be implemented jointly under the auspices of the UN’s Geneva office for humanitarian action (ocha), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN children’s fund (UNICEF). Non-governmental organisations are involved on an equal footing. “Without rapid support for the most vulnerable and needy countries, the Coronavirus will not only spread there, but will also return from there to countries and regions of the world where the Virus was initially successfully contained,” warned UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at his joint press conference with WHO and UNICEF directors.
In order to finance the planned measures, the UN reports a financial requirement of 2.2 billion US dollars initially by the end of 2020. This amount is to be raised by donations from the 193 member States. “Fresh money is absolutely needed,” Guterres explained.“Under no circumstances should governments reduce their contributions to other emergency humanitarian programmes that are already underway,” the UN secretary-general warned.
Human rights commissioner: easing US sanctions
In its chapter on Iran, the Global Plan mentions that the country and its healthcare system are suffering from massive economic sanctions. By the end of the year, the economy is expected to decline by five to ten percent and an additional 500,000 unemployed. But the Plan does not recommend suspending or at least easing economic sanctions because of the corona crisis. This could at least ensure the supply of urgently needed medical goods.
The UN High Commissioner for human rights (UNHCR) Michelle Bachelet made a similar demand in Geneva on Tuesday. Bachelet did not only name Iran, but also the countries Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea and Zimbabwe, which are also affected by US sanctions. The US government immediately rejected Bachelet’s claim. When Infosperber asked UN Secretary-General Guterres, who Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore whether they shared the High Commissioner for human rights ' request, there was no reply by the time these lines were completed.