“THE FIERCE URGENCY OF NOW”

The Education Cannot Wait Global Fund (ECW) allocates a total of US$15 million in an initial series of emergency grants for the rapid delivery of holistic education services to protect and support vulnerable children and youth hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in 16 countries/emergency contexts. These girls and boys are already impacted by armed conflicts, forced displacement, natural disasters and protracted crises. An additional series of grants to support the response in other crisis-affected countries will be released shortly and reach partners in-country in the coming days.

EDUCATION CANNOT WAIT ALLOCATES US$15 MILLION IN EMERGENCY EDUCATION FUNDING TO SUPPORT COVID-19 GLOBAL HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE

2 April 2020, New York – The Education Cannot Wait Global Fund (ECW) allocates a total of US$15 million in an initial series of emergency grants for the rapid delivery of holistic education services to protect and support vulnerable children and youth hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in 16 countries/emergency contexts. These girls and boys are already impacted by armed conflicts, forced displacement, natural disasters and protracted crises. An additional series of grants to support the response in other crisis-affected countries will be released shortly and reach partners in-country in the coming days.

“1.5 billion children are out of school. The majority of the 31 million children uprooted from their homes today – including over 17 million internally displaced, 12.7 million refugees and 1.1 million asylum seekers – are at great risk,” said Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, Chair of Education Cannot Wait’s High-level Steering Group and UN Special Envoy for Global Education. “Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of ‘the fierce urgency of now,’ and the crisis for these vulnerable children is right now and that is why ECW is making its full emergency reserves available immediately.”

This emergency allocation supports the United Nations coordinated $2 billion global humanitarian appeal launched on 25 March to fight COVID-19 in many of the world’s most vulnerable countries – already wracked by crises and now doubly-impacted by COVID-19.

As the pandemic continues to spread, upending entire countries and education systems worldwide, some 75 million children and youth – whose education was already disrupted due armed conflict, forced displacement, climate change-induced disasters and other crises – now find themselves in double jeopardy. Without the protection of a safe, equitable, inclusive quality education, they face increased risk of suffering the brunt of the pandemic, at higher risk of neglect, abuse, exploitation and violence, and of being even further left behind. Education is indeed be lifesaving for these vulnerable children and youth.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a global health crisis upon an already existing global education crisis affecting 75 million children and youth, of whom 39 million are girls, in war-torn countries and forced displacement. They are at extreme risk in the face of this unprecedented pandemic. We need to double our efforts and act with decisive speed. In the face of such immense exposure, immediate action is not only essential – it is existential. They are the ones furthest left behind and the ones we need to reach first,” said Education Cannot Wait Director Yasmine Sherif. “We are releasing our entire emergency reserve in two batches to support governments, UN agencies and civil society to reach them. ECW’s emergency funding will be with them in just a few days.”

The series of ECW’s First Emergency Response grants is allocated to 30 UN agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations who are coordinating their efforts together with host-governments in-country through inter-agency humanitarian structures, such as the Education Cluster or the Education in Emergencies Working Group.

The duration of grants varies from 6 to 12 months. Activities ensure quality learning for the most vulnerable, in a safe, equitable, inclusive environment and through innovative and cost-effective responses in affected countries. Interventions are focusing on the following areas:

Emergency Education Measures:  With the total disruption of the usual education systems in emergency-affected areas, grants are to support alternative delivery models, including informal education materials at the household level, as well as scaling up distance education programmes, particularly via interactive radio. Social emotional learning and psychosocial support are prominent components of the academic curriculum to be provided in these alternative delivery models.

Messaging and Support Around Risks: ECW grants are to support information campaigns and the scaling up of risk communications and community engagement with target populations. Messaging, tailored to local languages and contexts, are to give practical advice about how to stay safe, including through handwashing and social distancing.  Refugees, displaced and marginalized people may also experience xenophobia and stigma, requiring mental health and psychosocial support. Parents and teachers are to receive COVID19-specific guidance to promote the resilience and the psychosocial wellbeing of children and youth at home.

Upgrading Water and Sanitation Facilities in Schools: This is to benefit both students and the wider community as handwashing is a first line of defense against COVID-19. Even when schools and learning facilities are officially closed, in many cases there is still access to these facilities, and they can serve as crucial hubs to increase access to handwashing and distribute hygiene materials and kits.

ECW’s First Emergency Funding (FER) window is specifically designed to support rapid, agile coordinated education responses in times of new sudden onset or escalating crises. It is uniquely designed to ensure education can play its crucial lifesaving and life-sustaining role for affected children and youth in emergency settings.

Due to the exceptional nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, ECW issued a simplified application process to fast-track applications from partners for this emergency, ensuring funds can urgently be disbursed to roll out activities on the ground.

ECW’s allocation of much needed emergency funding to address critical education needs as a result of COVID-19 leaves a $50 million funding shortfall that will affect the Fund’s ability to respond to other needs or emergencies in the immediate future. ECW calls on the private sector, foundations, governments and other donors to urgently make new donations to ECW to support these efforts.

With these new emergency funding grants, ECW has now allocated over $100 million through its First Emergency Response window since the Fund started its operations in 2017 – supporting rapid education responses in more than 30 crisis-affected countries.

To contribute to ECW’s emergency reserve, please contact Nasser Faqih (nfaqih@unicef.org) or Madge Thomas (mathomas@unicef.org).

Additional information on emergency grants per country/crisis:

  • Afghanistan: Total of $1.25 million allocated. Grantees: UNICEF ($1.25 million)
  • Bangladesh: Total of $1.5 million allocated. Grantees: BRAC ($900,000), Save the Children ($600,000)
  • Brazil: Total of $250,000 million allocated. Grantee: UNICEF ($250,000)
  • Burkina Faso: Total of $1.5 million allocated. Grantees: EDUCO ($300,000), Plan International ($500,000), Save the Children ($250,000), UNICEF ($300,000), UNHCR ($150,000)
  • Colombia: Total of $1 million allocated. Grantees: Save the Children ($1 million)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): Total of $1.5 million allocated. Grantees: AVSI ($340,000), Save the Children ($140,000), UNESCO ($520,000), War Child Canada ($500,000)
  • Ethiopia: Total of $1million allocated. Grantees: Save the Children ($500,000), UNICEF ($500,000)
  • Palestine: Total of $850,000 allocated. Grantees: Save the Children ($400,000), UNICEF ($450,000)  
  • Somalia – Federal Government of Somalia and Member States: Total of $800,000 allocated. Grantee: ADRA ($800,000)
  • Somalia – Puntland: Total of $650,000 allocated. Grantee: Save the Children ($650,000)
  • Somalia – Somaliland: Total of $700,000 allocated. Grantee: UNICEF ($700,000)
  • Syria: Total of $500,000 allocated. Grantee: UNICEF ($500,000)
  • Uganda: Total of $1 million allocated. Grantees: Save the Children ($525,000), UNHCR ($475,000)
  • Venezuela: Total of $1 million allocated. Grantee: UNICEF ($1 million)
  • Zimbabwe: Total of $500,000 allocated. Grantees: Plan International ($75,000), Save the Children ($175,000), UNICEF ($175,000), World Vision ($75,000)
  • Regional Response for Palestine Refugees: Total of $1 million allocated. Grantee: UNRWA ($1 million)

###

Notes to Editors:

Information on the ECW Fund and its investment modalities are available at: www.educationcannotwait.org

About Education Cannot Wait (ECW)

ECW is the first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies. It was launched by international humanitarian and development aid actors, along with public and private donors, to address the urgent education needs of 75 million children & youth in conflict and crisis settings. ECW’s investment modalities are designed to usher in a more collaborative approach among actors on the ground, ensuring relief and development organizations join forces to achieve education outcomes. Education Cannot Wait is hosted by UNICEF. The Fund is administered under UNICEF’s financial, human resources and administrative rules and regulations, while operations are run by the Fund’s own independent governance structure.

Please follow on Twitter: @EduCannotWait  @YasmineSherif1   @KentPage
Additional information available at: www.educationcannotwait.org

For press inquiries:
Anouk Desgroseilliers, adesgroseilliers@un-ecw.org, +1-917-640-6820
Kent Page, kpage@unicef.org, +1-917-302-1735

For other inquiries: info@un-ecw.org

THE LEGO GROUP AND THE LEGO FOUNDATION SUPPORT CHILDREN AND FAMILIES IMPACTED BY COVID-19

‘This generous donation will allow Education Cannot Wait to scale up its support of a coordinated response among governments, UN agencies and civil society organizations to bring a glimmer of hope to children of all ages in the most crisis-affected countries in the world.’ – Yasmine Sherif, Director, Education Cannot Wait

30 March 2020 – Given the unprecedented times that coronavirus is causing around the world, the LEGO Foundation is donating $50 million to support children most in need.

The mission of the LEGO Foundation is to ensure no child goes without play and educational opportunities. Given the impact that coronavirus is having around the world, the charity has donated $50 million to ensure that children in the most need will continue to have access to learning through play.

Three groups of partners will receive the donation, according to the official statement:

  • Education Cannot Wait, which provides education for children caught in emergencies and protracted crises.
  • A selection of existing LEGO Foundation partners whose work with children and families is under additional pressure from COVID-19.
  • Charity partners serving communities where the LEGO Group has a significant presence. Our aim is to urgently reach crisis-affected children with essential supplies and provide support to continue learning through play.

“We cannot let COVID-19 setback a generation of children. Research shows that while learning through play is vital for children’s psychological, emotional and cognitive health and development, it also hones the resilience they need to overcome adversity and build their futures. We must support all children, including the most vulnerable in society, to ensure they continue to have access to education and develop skills critical for them to thrive in a constantly changing world,” says John Goodwin, CEO, the LEGO Foundation. “We are honored to be able to collaborate and support Education Cannot Wait and our other partners who are working extremely hard in unforgiving circumstances to bring education, hope and a future to the most vulnerable children.”

“We are grateful that the LEGO Foundation has stepped forward as the first private sector partner to contribute to our COVID-19 response,” says Yasmine Sherif, Education Cannot Wait Director. “This generous donation will allow Education Cannot Wait to scale up its support of a coordinated response among governments, UN agencies and civil society organizations to bring a glimmer of hope to children of all ages in the most crisis-affected countries in the world. Learning must continue in the midst of the pandemic. The LEGO Foundation’s commitment to learning through play is a shining example of what’s possible and we encourage more philanthropic, private sector and government donor partners to come forward.”

View originals on Lego Foundation and Brickfanatics websites.

COVID-19 AND EDUCATION IN EMERGENCIES

Photo ©UNICEF/UN0339412/Frank Dejongh

Armed conflicts, forced displacement, climate change induced disasters and protracted crises have disrupted the education of 75 million children and youth globally. And that number is growing in an unprecedented way with the spread of COVID-19.  Education has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic with 1.53 billion learners out of school and 184 country-wide school closures, impacting 87.6% of the world’s total enrolled learners. Drop-out rates across the globe are likely to rise as a result of this massive disruption to education access.

While other critical needs such as health, water and sanitation are being responded to, educational needs cannot be forgotten and these have an equally detrimental impact if left unaddressed. The ‘pile-on effect’ of the coronavirus is that, during the global COVID-19 pandemic, interruptions to education can have long term implications — especially for the most vulnerable.  There is a real risk of regression for children whose basic, foundational learning (reading, math, languages, etc.) was not strong to begin with. And millions of children who have already been deprived of their right to education, particularly girls, are being more exposed to health and well-being risks (both psychosocial and physical) during COVID-19. These are the children and youth we at Education Cannot Wait (ECW) prioritize, including:

  • Girls: Young and adolescent girls are twice as likely to be out of school in crisis situations and face greater barriers to education and vulnerabilities such as domestic/gender-based violence when not in school.
  • Refugees, displaced and migrant children: These populations often fall between the cracks as national policies might not necessarily include these vulnerable groups and they must be included and catered for in any global responses to this crisis if this has not already occurred.
  • Children and youth with disabilities: Along with other marginalized populations, including children from minority groups, are neglected in the best of times and have lower educational outcomes than their peers.
  • Young people affected by trauma or mental health issues: Schools and learning centers are places for communities to address health related issues, including mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), which the most vulnerable students rely on for their wellbeing and development in order to learn.

Without access to education, as shocks are experienced – including loss of life, health impacts and loss of livelihoods – children are more vulnerable and unprotected.  As household finances are being strained and needs increase, out-of-school children are more likely to be exposed to risks like family violence, child labor, forced marriage, trafficking and exploitation, including by responders. For the most vulnerable children, education is lifesaving. Not only does it provide safety and protection, importantly, it also instils hope for a brighter future.

So continuing education through alternative learning pathways, as soon as possible, must also be a top priority right now, to ensure the interruption to education is as limited as possible.  We urgently need to support teachers, parents/caregivers, innovators, communications experts and all those who are positioned to provide education, whether through radio programmes, home-schooling, online learning and other innovative approaches.

What does this mean for responders like ECW? In the short term, this means we must maintain access to learning and ensure kids retain knowledge and skills (i.e. through temporary remote, alternative or distance learning programmes). In the medium term, this means catching up and transitioning students who have fallen behind or had a break in their education to re-join their level of schooling and competency (i.e. automatic promotion with a mandatory catchup/remedial period at the beginning). In the longer term, this means there is a need for education systems to be set up with contingency capacities to mitigate and manage risk in the future.

HOW ECW IS POSITIONED TO RESPOND TO THE COVID-19 GLOBAL PANDEMIC

Education Cannot Wait, the global fund for education in emergencies, was launched in 2016 at the World Humanitarian summit to coordinate responses and raise financing for education in emergencies, and distributes funds where they are needed most and as quickly as possible, to continue children’s education in times of crisis.

  • Given our geographical footprint across emergency and crisis-context countries and the vulnerable child and youth population that ECW serves, COVID-19 represents yet another burden in a series of challenges already experienced by them, their families and communities.
  • Crisis response is what we know, and we consider COVID-19 to be a crisis of profound magnitude for all humanity, unprecedented in our lifetime.
  • We are closely connected to our partners on the ground in vulnerable communities and are working with them to urgently assess additional needs and determine what support and funding are most impactful. This is how we work to ensure no child is left behind or exploited by this pandemic. After extensive consultations with these partners and across the UN system, we are responding to the COVID-19 crisis with every tool at our disposal.
  • In our education in emergency responses, we consider holistic spectrum of needs that children and youth, their parents and caregivers, educators and communities face during crisis. This includes MHPSS, child protection, school feeding, gender equality, access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene education, school infrastructure, teacher training and quality learning materials.
  • Through holistically planned interventions, we take a birds-eye view of the entire developmental needs of a child in crisis and ensure our funded responses address their needs and coordinate wraparound support or fill gaps not supported by others.
  • We also require our partner organizations to apply child safeguarding measures, manage risks to children, including risks associated with personnel and volunteers who are in contact with vulnerable children, and to report child safeguarding concerns to ECW.
  • We detail below how ECW ensures that these principles and the complex and holistic needs of affected children and youth are met within COVID-19 responses that we fund.

SUPPORT AND EXPERTISE ECW IS PROVIDING DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS

Our immediate challenge is to educate children where they are, within the infrastructure and setting they are in. This requires innovation and creativity to enhance remote learning tools, services and education. ECW has a range of expertise and background in innovative education solutions in crisis situations, including addressing mental health and wellbeing needs.  Our support includes:

  • Complying and coordinating with the UN’s overall guidance and response. At the country level, we coordinate responses with the UN Humanitarian/Resident Coordinator and Designated Official for Security, as well as UN agencies to determine parameters and priorities, risk-assessments and directives, while ensuring the critical importance of education in the response is recognized and prioritized. We continue to coordinate responses through the Global Education Cluster and UNHCR (for refugee situations).
  • At the global level, ECW is part of UNESCO’s Global COVID-19 Education Coalition and, as a UN-hosted fund, ECW participates in all other multilateral coordination efforts undertaken by the broader UN system and UN Appeals. ECW uses both our First Emergency Response (FER) or the Acceleration Facility window to support these initiatives as relevant and necessary.
  • ECW’s priority is to provide and deploy urgent funding and use our in-built agility and emergency-design to respond quickly to education needs during the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. ECW funds and ensures quality learning for the most vulnerable, in a safe, inclusive environment and through innovative and cost-effective responses in affected countries.
  • For existing countries that we support, this means: Organizations can apply under the First Emergency Response (FER) and Multi-Year Resilience Programme (MYRP) windows for funding, or to quickly and easily re-programme and re-orient their efforts in line with local needs and coordinated measures.  We provide immediate support and fast-track any requests.
  • For new countries and regions that need our support that means: If education has been affected as a result of the COVID-19 crisis in a country we haven’t worked with, and that meets ECW’s criteria, they can apply to our COVID FER window or Acceleration Facility. Proposals may enable local and international civil society organizations, NGOs, UN agencies, government bodies and others to respond to the needs they are seeing on the ground.
  • Based on our connection to front-line responders and humanitarian expertise, we provide support, technical guidance and expertise to our partners in affected communities to ensure the most vulnerable are not left behind and that children’s immediate needs – education, health well-being and more – are met.
    • For instance, access to clean water and sanitation, as well as hygiene education (WASH) is critical for every school-aged child right now. ECW can provide technical expertise, funding and infrastructure support to ensure children continue to manage their hygiene and health, as part of their education.
    • ECW wants to ensure that children and adolescents don’t fall behind, but gain tools needed to ‘weather this storm’ and develop skills to better navigate life’s challenges afterwards. We collaborate broadly with the private sector, innovators, civil society groups, influencers and others to achieve these aims.

ECW’S PRINCIPLES FOR ASSESSING COVID-19 RELATED FUNDING APPLICATIONS

  • We know children and adolescents are more at-risk during crises: When children lose access to education they lose a critical opportunity for protection. To safeguard children in this fluid situation, we encourage proposals that:
    • Prioritize MHPSS and other protection activities, i.e. addressing gender-based and domestic violence;
    • Apply the 2019 Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action and the 2010 INEE Minimum Standards for Education: Preparedness, Response, Recovery.
  • We recognize the difference between innovation, technology and good solutions: Because many of our beneficiaries do not have access to internet connectivity, computers or smartphones, innovation through technology may not be feasible. Innovation alone doesn’t always represent quality in learning. Reponses may channel creative thinking on how to deliver education differently or build on/expand prior local learnings.  We consider all responses to remote learning – high tech, low tech and no tech – provided the response is relevant, feasible and reaches all affected children and youth, can be used and understood by children, teachers and parents, and that content is context and language specific (software, hardware, radio-based learning etc.).  We encourage responses that build on or utilize locally-available infrastructure and services. We require information on amount of input, time intensiveness and accessibility/reach.
  • We know good teachers are our best hope for kids to learn: Teacher well-being is paramount to building a workforce of compassionate change makers. We recognize continuity of salary and job security are essential for teachers that work in ECW-funded areas. We ensure that teacher salaries and incentives provided in our grants continue and welcome other proposals that support teachers and quality teaching during COVID.
  • Crises are a difficult, confusing and stressful time: While most children and youth are resilient, they may experience increased stress and anxiety during times of uncertainty. Existing mental health concerns may be exacerbated when lacking the structure, support and interaction with peers at school. ECW prioritizes MHPSS as part of the COVID-19 education response and, in alignment with the IASC’s MHPSS Reference Group’s messages and activities and resources and lessons learned shared by INEE and IFRC’s Psychosocial Reference Center, encourages responses that help children deal with stress during the outbreak.
  • Leaving no girl behind: To ensure girls and young women do not face additional inequity and fall further behind in their education during this pandemic, we prioritize solutions that analyze and address their specific needs and rights as part of the COVID-19 response. We encourage initiatives that prevent barriers like the burden of caregiving, inequitable distribution of learning resources and marginalization in the home, to increase access and opportunity for girls to learn and achieve equally during COVID-19.
  • A wide definition of ‘education’: It is important for responses to demonstrate how they address the wide scope of needs that children currently face. We recognize the value that education plays in ensuring broader needs are met. Responses which also achieve outcomes in nutrition, water and sanitation, health, gender equality, protection and MHPSS are encouraged and should identify how these outcomes are achieved, but also how proposals that address these issues facilitate better learning outcomes overall.
  • As simple and quick as possible: This is a crisis – not a time to fill out endless applications. While we want to ensure that all proposals meet our basic standards and set key deliverables, our objective is to make the application process as simple, quick, expedient, user-friendly and self-explanatory as possible so that those with good ideas and a way to execute locally can help educate the communities they are in. The form allows partners to make simple inputs on proposals and enables simplified reporting and quick turnaround of approvals and funding.
  • Added value and CSO/ grassroots support: We serve the often forgotten and most at risk within crisis-affected countries and prioritize partners that can support hard to reach, underserved children, girls, youth and communities in affected areas. Any new or re-programmed investments must demonstrate how they coordinate with other responders in the region and fill a clear gap to support and complement other partners’ responses to the crisis. In addition, ECW has the ability to support civil society and capacity building as well as CSO and grassroots organizations which cannot be funded by the UN’s emergency response system. Recognizing that localized information, support and response is now critical, we invite proposals from all organizations that can support local educational responses and advocacy.
  • Resilience building: Longer term outcomes to build resilience and for alternative use and impact should be included in proposals where applicable.

HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT US TO HELP THE MOST VULNERABLE CHILDREN AND YOUTH

With needs escalating by the day, there are three very concrete ways that governments, private sector, foundations, NGOs and individuals can partner with ECW at this difficult time, to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure quality education continues globally, especially in the most vulnerable countries, for the next critical months:

  1. Help us innovate and co-finance education solutions: ECW is actively working with partners in government and the private sector, especially those involved in education, ICT and entertainment, to engage in developing and financing solutions to ensure the continuity of education. We believe this is an opportunity for demonstrating solidarity between the private sector, government and innovators to invent solutions for what we hope is a temporary crisis. This would also strengthen capacity to respond to education priorities in future crises as whatever we develop and invent now becomes useful global public goods benefiting children and youth, especially those who are refugees, internally displaced, migrants or caught in armed conflicts or protracted crises. If partners would like to support this type of innovation and funding, we are also able to allocate resources from our Acceleration Facility to co-finance coordinated efforts and pilot projects.
  2. Provide funding to help us response to urgent education needs in the most vulnerable countries:  Our current grantees, including (governments, UN agencies and civil society organizations) are striving to sustain critical support functions and find new ways to respond. Overall, our initial estimates are that the needs in the 26 countries currently receiving support from ECW require additional support of at least US$35-40 million to support activities in response to COVID-19 for the following 3-4 months. This is just over US$1 million average for each country, which is the minimum we can expect they need (and, it is likely more will be needed in most countries). We encourage contributions to our ECW Multi-Donor Trust Fund from the Government or KOICA towards this amount and we ensure close communication to share the impact that we are having.
  3. If you believe you can respond to local education needs, submit a proposal: Apply to ECW via our COVID-19 First Emergency Response Application process, through the in-country humanitarian coordination forum, either the Education Cluster or the Education in Emergency Working Group in in your country/region. Alternatively, you can submit a proposal through the ECW Acceleration facility to support education in your community.

Download the ECW COVID-19 and Education in Emergencies factsheet.

For inquiries, contact info@un-ecw.org.  For updates, please follow: @EduCannotWait and visit: educationcannotwait.org

COVID-19 GLOBAL HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE PLAN

The United Nations today launched a US$2 billion coordinated global humanitarian response plan to fight COVID-19 in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries in a bid to protect millions of people and stop the virus from circling back around the globe.

Photo: OCHA/Iason Athanasiadis

UN issues $2 billion appeal to combat COVID-19

View Original

25 March 2020 – The United Nations today launched a US$2 billion coordinated global humanitarian response plan to fight COVID-19 in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries in a bid to protect millions of people and stop the virus from circling back around the globe.

COVID-19 has killed more than 16,000 people worldwide and there are nearly 400,000 reported cases. It has a foothold across the globe and is now reaching countries that were already facing humanitarian crisis because of conflict, natural disasters and climate change.

The COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan will be implemented by UN agencies, with international NGOs and NGO consortiums playing a direct role in the response. It will:

  • deliver essential laboratory equipment to test for the virus, and medical supplies to treat people;
  • install handwashing stations in camps and settlements;
  • launch public information campaigns on how to protect yourself and others from the virus; and
  • establish airbridges and hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to move humanitarian workers and supplies to where they are needed most.

Speaking at the virtual launch of the response plan, Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said: “To leave the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries to their fate would be both cruel and unwise. If we leave coronavirus to spread freely in these places, we would be placing millions at high risk, whole regions will be tipped into chaos and the virus will have the opportunity to circle back around the globe.”

Mr. Lowcock noted that countries battling the pandemic at home are rightly prioritizing people living in their own communities. “But the hard truth is they will be failing to protect their own people if they do not act now to help the poorest countries protect themselves,” he stressed.

At the launch of the response plan, the Under-Secretary-General was joined by UN Secretary-General António Guterres; Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO); and Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF.

Together, they called on UN Member States to commit to stemming the impact of COVID-19 in vulnerable countries and containing the virus globally by giving the strongest possible support to the plan, while also sustaining core support to existing humanitarian appeals that help the more than 100 million people who already rely on humanitarian assistance from the UN just to survive.

“COVID-19 is menacing the whole of humanity – and so the whole of humanity must fight back. Individual country responses are not going to be enough,” the Secretary-General said.

“We must come to the aid of the ultra-vulnerable – millions upon millions of people who are least able to protect themselves.  This is a matter of basic human solidarity. It is also crucial for combating the virus. This is the moment to step up for the vulnerable.”

Member States were warned that any diversion of funding from existing humanitarian operations would create an environment in which cholera, measles and meningitis can thrive, in which even more children become malnourished, and in which extremists can take control – an environment that would be the perfect breeding ground for the coronavirus.

To kick-start the response plan, Mr. Lowcock released an additional $60 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). This brings CERF’s support to humanitarian action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to $75 million. In addition, country-based pooled funds have allocated more than $3 million so far.

This new CERF allocation – one of the largest ever made – will support: the World Food Programme to ensure the continuity of supply chains and transport of aid workers and relief goods; WHO to contain the spread of the pandemic; and other agencies to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to those most affected by the pandemic, including women and girls, refugees and internally displaced people.

Support will include efforts around food security, physical and mental health, water and sanitation, nutrition and protection.

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL APPEALS FOR GLOBAL CEASE-FIRE

In these times of unprecedented challenges to our humanity, we are sharing with you this appeal from the Secretary-General of the United Nations for an immediate global cease-fire. We trust you will help us amplify this urgent call to help save lives and restore hope for women, men and children facing the risk of the COVID 19 pandemic while living in dire conditions in armed conflict and forced displacement situations across the globe.

In these times of unprecedented challenges to our humanity, we are sharing with you this appeal from the Secretary-General of the United Nations for an immediate global cease-fire. We trust you will help us amplify this urgent call to help save lives and restore hope for women, men and children facing the risk of the COVID 19 pandemic while living in dire conditions in armed conflict and forced displacement situations across the globe. 
 
Our world faces a common enemy: COVID-19. 

The virus does not care about nationality or ethnicity, faction or faith.  It attacks all, relentlessly.

Meanwhile, armed conflict rages on around the world.  

The most vulnerable — women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the displaced — pay the highest price.

They are also at the highest risk of suffering devastating losses from COVID-19.

Let’s not forget that in war-ravaged countries, health systems have collapsed.

Health professionals, already few in number, have often been targeted. 
 
Refugees and others displaced by violent conflict are doubly vulnerable.
 
The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war.
 
That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. 
 
It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.
 
To warring parties, I say: 
 
Pull back from hostilities.  
 
Put aside mistrust and animosity. 
 
Silence the guns; stop the artillery; end the airstrikes. 

This is crucial…
 
To help create corridors for life-saving aid.
 
To open precious windows for diplomacy. 

To bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to COVID-19. 
 
Let us take inspiration from coalitions and dialogue slowly taking shape among rival parties to enable joint approaches to COVID-19.  But we need much more.
 
End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world.
 
It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now.
 
That is what our human family needs, now more than ever.


LE SECRÉTAIRE GÉNÉRAL

APPEL POUR UN CESSEZ-LE-FEU MONDIAL
 
Le monde entier affronte aujourd’hui un ennemi commun : le COVID-19.
 
Le virus n’épargne aucune nationalité, communauté ou religion. Il attaque tout le monde sur son passage, implacablement.
 
Pendant ce temps, les conflits armés continuent de faire rage dans le monde.
 
Ce sont les personnes les plus vulnérables – les femmes et les enfants, les personnes en situation de handicap, les personnes marginalisées et déplacées – qui paient le tribut le plus lourd.
 
Ces mêmes personnes courent également le plus grand risque de subir des pertes dévastatrices à cause du COVID-19.
 
N’oublions pas que dans les pays ravagés par la guerre, les systèmes de santé se sont effondrés.
 
Les professionnels de santé, qui étaient déjà peu nombreux, ont souvent été pris pour cibles.
 
Les réfugiés et toutes les personnes déplacées par des conflits violents sont doublement vulnérables.
 
La furie avec laquelle s’abat le virus montre bien que se faire la guerre est une folie.
 
C’est la raison pour laquelle j’appelle aujourd’hui à un cessez-le-feu immédiat, partout dans le monde. 
 
L’heure est venue de laisser les conflits armés derrière nous pour concentrer nos efforts sur le véritable combat de nos vies.
 
A vous qui êtes en guerre, je dis :
 
Renoncez aux hostilités.
 
Laissez de côté la méfiance et l’animosité.
 
Posez les armes, faites taire les canons, mettez fin aux frappes aériennes.
 
C’est essentiel…
 
Pour pouvoir établir des couloirs d’aide humanitaire qui sauveront des vies.
 
Pour reprendre le dialogue et donner une chance à la diplomatie.
 
Pour ramener l’espoir dans certains des lieux les plus vulnérables face au COVID-19.
 
Inspirons-nous des coalitions qui prennent forme et des dialogues qui se nouent lentement entre des parties rivales pour permettre des approches conjointes face au COVID-19. Mais il faut en faire beaucoup plus.
 
Mettons un terme au fléau de la guerre et luttons contre la maladie qui ravage notre monde.
 
Cela commence par l’arrêt des combats. Partout. Tout de suite.
 
C’est ce dont nous tous, membres de la famille humaine, avons besoin. Aujourd’hui plus que jamais.

UNITED NATIONS CORONAVIRUS DISEASE (COVID-19) WEB PORTAL

Photo ©UNICEF/UN0339412/Frank Dejongh

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans.

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.  Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

Learn more in the six UN official languages at www.un.org/coronavirus

More Resources

Peacekeeping

Peacekeeping missions are putting in place a series of mitigation measures to promote the safety, security and health of all UN personnel while maintaining continuity of operations.

Humanitarian Assistance

More than 100 million people already rely on support from the United Nations’ humanitarian agencies. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ (OCHA) top priority is to ensure that we do the best we can to keep providing life-saving help for those people, while supporting the wider system’s response to COVID-19.

Children

The UN Children’s agency is providing the latest updatesexplainers for parents and teachers, and resources for media as new information becomes available.

Reproductive Health

UNFPA, the UN sexual and reproductive health agency, has issued a statement on COVID-19 and pregnancy.

Refugees

UNHCR is committed to preventing and responding to this health emergency. Their primary goal is to protect refugees, displaced people and their host communities.

Food and Agriculture

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is working closely with WHO and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to assist member countries and research communities in identifying potential animal hosts of this virus and reduce spillover events to humans.

Tourism

The tourism sector, like no other economic activity with social impact, is based on interaction amongst people. UNWTO has been guiding the tourism sector’s response on several levels.

Aviation

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), WHO, IATA and ACI have worked in close cooperation on the development of this single source for aviation-specific guidelines with the objective of ensuring appropriate planning and action at all levels and thus in order to mitigate the effects of a human outbreak.

Educational Disruption and Response

UNESCO is providing immediate support to countries as they work to minimize the educational disruption and facilitate the continuity of learning, especially for the most vulnerable.

UN Development Programme

UNDP is working with its partners to combat the spread of the disease and to support the most affected countries where health systems are weakest and people are at their most vulnerable.

The World Bank Group

The World Bank is providing new financing to countries on a fast-track basis, as well as policy advice and technical assistance.

The International Monetary Fund

The IMF is helping its member states with emergency financing, debt relief, new financing arrangements and capacity development.

UN Conference on Trade and Development

UNCTAD is monitoring the effects of the pandemic on manufacturing, trade, foreign direct investment and economic growth.

 

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