A senior United Nations official warned Friday of decades of tragedy if wealthy nations would not help poorer nations fight the coronavirus, which continues to spread rapidly around the world.
"If we don't act now, we should be prepared for a series of human tragedies that are more brutal and destructive than all the direct effects of the virus itself," said Mark Lowcock, UN Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, to reporters at the invitation of the World Health Organization.
The inaction of world leaders will free the corona virus to orbit the globe and "reverse decades of development and create tragic and exportable problems worth decades," said Lowcock.
All of this is avoidable, he said in a plea to the rich nations to contribute to a US $ 10.3 billion program to help poor nations fight the pandemic.
"It can be fixed with money and leadership from the world's richer nations and some new thinking," he said. "We estimate that the cost of protecting the poorest 10% of the world's population from the worst effects of the pandemic and global recession is around $ 90 billion. This is less than 1% of the stimulus package that rich countries have to protect World have set up economy. "
The corona virus, which appeared more than six months ago, infected nearly 14 million people worldwide and killed at least 590,600 people, according to Johns Hopkins University. Health officials in Idlib, Syria, reported last week on their first case of Covid-19, which raised fears of an outbreak in crowded refugee camps.
The U.N. program, called the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan, aims to respond to the humanitarian effects of the coronavirus in low and middle income countries and to support their efforts to combat them, Lowcock said. The plan has generated $ 1.7 billion in donors since its launch in March.
The initiative comes from the United States breaking ties with WHO and ending funding programs that help countries in "all kinds of fragile and difficult situations," Dr. Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergency Program.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized WHO's response to the coronavirus, which has hit the US worse than any other country, while reviewing his own government's response to the pandemic. He has claimed that WHO is "China-centered" and accuses the agency of advising against travel bans at the start of the outbreak.
The agency defended its first response to the coronavirus pandemic, declaring that it had given the world's leading politicians enough time to intervene early in the outbreak.
The agency declared Covid-19 a global health emergency on January 30 when there were only 82 cases and no deaths outside of China, said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a press conference on May 1. "That means the world had enough time to intervene."
The WHO said on Friday that the coronavirus is not just a humanitarian problem. The agency said if the corona virus is not controlled everywhere, "it is a risk everywhere and it will continue to threaten the world economically and it will continue to threaten the world politically until we get rid of this virus or bring it under sustainable control."