UN makes global appeal to protect vulnerable countries


Sindiso Mhlophe

THE United Nations (UN) has launched a US$6,7 billion global humanitarian appeal to cushion the poor and stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus (Covid-19) in vulnerable countries, including Zimbabwe.

This comes as UN Zimbabwe recently launched a humanitarian appeal for US$84,9 million to respond to both immediate public health crisis and secondary impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on vulnerable people in Zimbabwe.

Speaking during the virtual launch of the global appeal, UN’s humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock, called for swift and determined action to avoid the most destabilising effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in fragile countries.

“Covid-19 has now reached every country, with nearly 3 596 000 confirmed cases and over 247 650 deaths worldwide. The peak of the disease in the world’s poorest countries is not expected until some point over the next three to six months.

“However, there is already evidence of incomes plummeting and jobs disappearing, food supplies falling and prices soaring, and children missing vaccinations and meals,” Lowcock said.

“The humanitarian system is taking action to avert a sharp rise in conflict, hunger, poverty and disease as a result of the pandemic and the associated global recession.

“Today’s updated Global Humanitarian Response Plan has been expanded in response. It includes nine additional vulnerable countries including Benin, Djibouti, Liberia, Mozambique, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Togo and Zimbabwe, and programmes to respond to the growth in food insecurity,” Lowcock added.

Lowcock further said that while the Covid-19 pandemic was affecting all countries across the globe, the most devastating and destabilising effects will be felt by the world’s poorest countries.

“In the poorest countries we can already see economies contracting as export earnings, remittances and tourism disappear. Unless we take action now, we should be prepared for a significant rise in conflict, hunger and poverty. The spectre of multiple famines looms.

“If we do not support the poorest people, especially women and girls and other vulnerable groups, as they battle the pandemic and impacts of the global recession, we will all be dealing with the spill over effects for many years to come.

“That would prove even more painful, and much more expensive, for everyone,” he said.

“This pandemic is unlike anything we have dealt with in our lifetime. Business as usual will not do. Extraordinary measures are needed. As we come together to combat this virus, I urge donors to act in both solidarity and in self-interest and make their response proportionate to the scale of the problem we face,” he added.

The global appeal aims to provide help and protection that prioritise the most vulnerable and this includes older people, people with disabilities, and women and girls.

Zimbabwe, with 34 confirmed cases of Covid-19, which include four deaths and nine recoveries, is one of the vulnerable countries as experts have warned that the country’s economic and food crisis situation is likely to worsen due to impact of the pandemic.

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