Latin America and the Caribbean included in the $2 billion Global Humanitarian Response Plan
In a bid to protect millions of people, the United Nations launched a US$2 billion coordinated global humanitarian response plan on 25 March to fight COVID-19 in countries with already existing humanitarian situations. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the Plan includes Colombia, Haiti and Venezuela, as well as the Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela covering 17 countries.*
“The virus is arriving in countries already in the midst of humanitarian crises caused by conflicts, natural disasters and climate change,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during the launch event. “The world is only as strong as our weakest health system. If we do not act decisively now, I fear the virus will establish a foothold in the most fragile countries, leaving the whole world vulnerable as it continues to circle the planet, paying no mind to borders.”
The Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) seeks $2 billion to deliver essential kits such as laboratory equipment to test for the virus and medical treatments, install handwashing stations in camps and settlements, launch public information campaigns on personal protective measures against the virus, and establish airbridges and hubs across Latin America, Africa and Asia to deploy humanitarian workers and supplies to where they are needed most.
The GHRP consolidates existing COVID-19 appeals and is based on contributions from the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, IOM, UNDP, UNFPA, UN-HABITAT, UNHCR and WFP, as well as contributions from many leading humanitarian NGOs and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, stressed that the plan is intended for the entire humanitarian community, not just the United Nations.
“A wide range of organisations, including many national and international NGOs, will have a crucial role to play in the response,” Lowcock said. “They will be able to access the funding that this plan generates through partner arrangements with UN agencies, pooled funding mechanisms – including the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and Country-Based Pooled Funds – and through direct donor funding.”
The UN calls on Governments to sustain funding to existing humanitarian and refugee response plans and warns that to divert funding from them would only increase the likelihood of the spread of the coronavirus among the most vulnerable.
With 9,252 confirmed cases and 180 deaths in Latin America and the Caribbean as of 26 March, many countries in the region have already taken measures to curb the spread according to WHO recommendations. UN teams across the region are already supporting government-led responses. However, the impact of the crisis is already significant and threatens to lead to devastating social, economic, and political crises that could have profound repercussions for years to come - reversing development gains achieved over the last years.
“The pandemic is having a deep, probably unparalleled, social and economic impact in our region. It will especially affect the poor, women, children, workers in the informal sector, indigenous peoples, migrants, refugees and others,” said Christian Salazar Volkmann, Director of the UN Development Coordination Office for Latin America and the Caribbean.
“UN Resident Coordinators will work hand in hand with humanitarian agencies to help countries to cater to the humanitarian needs of vulnerable populations. Together with UN development agencies, we will support states and societies in addressing longer-term challenges in health care, education, social protection, economic recovery and other sectors, in the framework of the 2030 agenda.”
*Argentina, Aruba, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guyana, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay.