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          Help the most vulnerable. UN appeal and G-20 initiative

          To combat Covid-19, we need to act now. Quickly, together and with a coordinated effort. This is the appeal (https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/03/1060222) launched by the United Nations and reiterated in a letter written by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to the G-20 leaders. The significance can be summed up by a phrase spoken during the presentation of the $2 billion global humanitarian response plan to be implemented in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries in an attempt to protect those most at risk: “History will judge us on how we responded to the poorest communities in their darkest hour. Let’s act together, right now!” The virus is now reaching more and more areas of the world struggling with conflict, natural disasters and climate change. The statistics provided by WHO in the late evening of 24 March give the number of reported cases of the virus as 416,686, with 18,589 reported deaths and 197 affected countries and territories.

          The appeal was made by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres together with the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. The same content can be found in a letter sent by Guterres (https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/03/1060142) to G-20 members - the group comprising the twenty most industrialized countries - which intend to convene an emergency virtual summit on the pandemic, which has already affected health, education and economies worldwide. Welcoming the initiative, Guterres wrote that the virus “will require a response like none before” and “a ‘war-time’ plan”. “The G-20 leadership has an extraordinary opportunity to step forward with a strong response package to address the various threats”, the head of the UN wrote. “This would demonstrate solidarity with the world’s people, especially the most vulnerable”. For the UN, a global approach is the only way to fight the coronavirus which “is threatening the whole of humanity”. “Individual country responses are not going to be enough”. The UN plan aims to help the “ultra-vulnerable”, the millions of people who are least able to protect themselves. But this is not only “a matter of basic human solidarity”: it is a crucial step to combating the virus, according to Guterres, and “this is the moment to step up” for the vulnerable.

          With the proper funding, according to the UN, it will save many lives and help humanitarian organisations by providing laboratory supplies for testing and medical equipment to treat the sick while protecting health-care professionals. “The plan also includes additional measures to support host communities that continue to generously open their homes and towns to refugees and displaced persons,” concluded the Secretary-General.

          To find out more about the daily monitoring of the virus by the UN visit: https://news.un.org/en/events/un-news-coverage-coronavirus-outbreak