The United Nations is calling for increased funding to support the world's poorest and most fragile countries fighting against the coronavirus pandemic and its socio-economic shock.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonia Guterres told journalists Tuesday that the pandemic is the greatest test the world has faced since World War II. Guterres urged leaders from the G20 to have international solidarity to suppress the crisis. Last week, together with three senior officials, he launched a $2 billion global humanitarian response plan to fund the fight against COVID-19 in the world's most vulnerable countries.
"It is a call to action," The U.N. chief said during his "Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity" report. He is calling for a large-scale, coordinated, multilateral response amounting to at least 10% of global GDP.
"These are places where people who have been forced to flee their homes because of bombs, violence or floods are living under plastic sheets in fields or crammed into refugee camps or informal settlements. They do not have homes in which to socially distance or self-isolate."
The Secretary-General appealed to the G-20 to establish an articulated response mechanism guided by the World Health Organization, to fight back together. He urged G-20 leaders to remove restrictions on cross border trade that affect the deployment of medical equipment, medicines and other essential goods to fight the epidemic, also encouraging the waiving of sanctions imposed on countries to ensure access to food, essential health supplies, and COVID-19 medical support. "Anything short of this commitment would lead to a pandemic of apocalyptic proportions affecting us all."
The U.N. chief also expressed particular concern about the African continent and welcomed the suggestion of a G20 initiative on Africa.
"I fully support that idea, but, again, we must act quickly to make it happen," he said. "If not, the African continent will have enormous difficulties in facing this challenge."
The U.N. chief said resources available to the developing countries must be massively increased. He suggested the issuance of special drawing rights at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and granting debt relief, including immediate waivers on interest payments for 2020.