MADRID – The United Nations humanitarian chief appealed on Thursday for $6.7 billion in aid to help fragile countries during the coronavirus crisis.
Mark Lowcock has called for swift and determined action to avoid the most destabilizing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UN tripled the size of its humanitarian appeal and released an updated global plan to tackle the outbreak around the world.
Lowcock said: “The COVID-19 pandemic is hurting us all. But the most devastating and destabilizing effects will be felt in 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 specter of multiple famines looms.”
The virus has reached every country, with nearly 3,596,000 confirmed cases and more than 247,650 deaths worldwide, the UN said.
The peak of the disease in the world’s poorest countries is not expected until some point over the next three to six months, it warned.
There has already been evidence of plummeting incomes and jobs disappearing, food supplies falling and prices soaring, and children missing vaccinations and meals, according to the global organization.
Lowcock warned that immediate action is needed to avoid a global economic downturn that could last for years.
“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 spillover effects for many years to come,” he added.
“That would prove even more painful, and much more expensive, for everyone.
“This pandemic is unlike anything we have dealt with in our lifetime.”
The humanitarian system is taking action to avoid a rise in conflict, hunger, poverty and disease, the UN said.
“Business as usual will not do. Extraordinary measures are needed,” Lowcock continued.
“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.”
The UN said it has updated and expanded its Global Humanitarian Response Plan in response to these threats.
It has also added another nine vulnerable countries, Benin, Djibouti, Liberia, Mozambique, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Togo and Zimbabwe, and programs to respond to the growth in food insecurity.
The renewed appeal and updated humanitarian response plan were released at a virtual event after the plan was first launched by the UN secretary-general in March.