The United Nations Secretary General has launched a two billion dollar global humanitarian response plan to fund the fight against COVID-19 in the world’s poorest countries.

Managed the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the interagency plan brings together existing appeals from the World Health Organisation and other UN partners to assist nations deemed most vulnerable, with feeble national healthcare system or where conflict has already wreaked havoc.

The Secretary General Antonio Guterres called the COVID-19 an unprecedented threat; spreading suffering, disrupting the lives of billions and endangering the global economy – as he appealed for 2 billion dollars to fund the response plan for the most vulnerable.

“Properly funded, it will save many lives and arm humanitarian agencies and NGO’s with laboratory supplies for testing and with medical equipment to treat the sick while protecting healthcare workers. The plan also includes additional measures to support those communities that continue to generously open their homes and towns to refugees and displaced persons. We need to act now to stem the impact of COVID-19 in already vulnerable humanitarian contexts.”

Guterres called it a matter of human solidarity and warned that the world was only as strong as its weakest health system. He cautioned that if action was not taken now, the virus could establish a foothold in the most fragile countries, leaving the whole world vulnerable.

“I’ve asked the United Nations coordinators and U.N. country teams to support countries around the world in addressing the socio-economic implications of this pandemic and will require an adequate funding mechanism. But now, now we ask you to support this humanitarian response plan. That is a necessity for global health security. It is a moral imperative and in everyone’s interests. And it is a crucial part of winning this fight. I appeal to governments to give it their full support.”

The appeal was backed by the Director General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Most worrying is the danger the virus poses to people already affected by the crisis. People and communities that are already uprooted due to conflict, displacement, the climate crisis, or other disease outbreaks are the ones we must urgently prioritize. Despite their resilience, they do need our help today. And this new plan lays out what has to happen right now in order to save lives and slow the spread of this virus. I implore leaders to stand together and heed this appeal joining the Secretary-General’s call.”

The Secretary General also urged donors to maintain support for existing humanitarian response plans which affect an estimated 100 million people. He said that were such funding to be diverted, the consequences could be catastrophic and lead to the spread of other diseases like cholera, measles and meningitis in vulnerable regions of the globe.

Confirmed coronavirus cases around the world: