United Nations chief says virus menacing mankind, launches $2B plan

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press briefing at United Nations Headquarters in New York City on Feb 4 2020

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press briefing at United Nations Headquarters in New York City on Feb 4 2020

The eight countries said efforts to combat COVID-19 are hindered by "the destructive impact" of sanctions nationally, "plus their extraterritorial implications, together with the phenomena of over-compliance and the fear for 'secondary sanctions, '" which impede governments from regularly accessing the global financial system or trading freely to procure medical equipment and supplies including testing kits for the virus. "Individual country responses are not going to be enough", he added, according to Agence France-Presse. Fore, said that children are "the hidden victims of the COVID-19 pandemic". The Global HRP also complements and supports existing government responses and national coordination mechanisms, with due consideration paid to the respect for humanitarian principles.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed Wednesday for $2 billion to help the world's most vulnerable nations cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

The amount of money sought by the plan is small compared to the US$2 trillion that the US Congress is poised to approve as a rescue effort for devastated American consumers, companies and hospitals as the US economy grinds to a sudden halt.

The UN plan is created to last from April to December - suggesting the world body does not see the health crisis abating any time soon.

"This is the moment to step up for the vulnerable", he stated.

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Guterres said in parallel, humanitarian aid provided yearly by member states to help 100 million people around the world must continue.

The response plan will be implemented by United Nations agencies, with worldwide nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and NGO consortia playing a direct role in the response, said Mark Lowcock, the United Nations undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs. Handwashing facilities will be installed in the camps.

The exact needs of some countries are still being identified.

In a joint letter obtained by The Associated Press, the ambassadors from China, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, Syria and Venezuela urged the United Nations chief to "reject the politicization of such a pandemic". "If we leave coronavirus to spread freely in these places, we would be placing millions at high risk, whole regions will be tipped into chaos and the virus will have the opportunity to circle back around the globe".

"This leads to longer periods of closed borders and limited freedom of movement, further contributing to a global slowdown that is already under way", said the UN.

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