The heads of major UN agencies warned Tuesday of COVID-19’s risk to the world’s most vulnerable countries, pleading for urgent support to the global emergency supply system. 

They said that international donors have pledged around a quarter of the $2 billion the UN requested in the Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19 in March but said that the funds need “scaling up” to be effective.

“All elements of the Global Humanitarian Response Plan are crucial and need continued funding, but without these logistics common services, the global response could stutter to a halt,” said the agency heads.

“Now is not the time to slow down. No one is safe until everyone is safe,” said a letter by the heads of major UN agencies to international donors.

The letter has signatures from the heads of UN bodies such as the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the World Food Program (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other agencies.

“Humanity is collectively facing its most daunting challenge since the Second World War. COVID-19 knows no borders, spares no country or continent, and strikes indiscriminately,” they wrote.

They said that the world seems to be at least 12 months away from a vaccine.

COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan

The agencies noted that the UN Secretary-General on March 25 launched the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan, requesting $2 billion to boost the global response.

“You have been fast and generous in your funding and have extended lifelines to those who were already caught up in war, poverty and the worst effects of climate change – especially at a time when your own populations are suffering from the impact of the virus,” the letter said.

Some $550 million has been made available to implement the plan to date, with significant additional resources being mobilized and pledged.

The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has also released $95 million to launch the COVID-19 response, to help contain the spread of the virus, maintain supply chains, and protect the most vulnerable people, including women, refugees, and internally displaced persons.

“To get more deliveries off the ground, the WFP is setting up the vital logistics backbone that will help save lives and help halt the spread of the virus.

“WFP now urgently needs additional funding to establish the necessary transport hubs, charter vessels and provide aircraft for cargo, health workers and other essential staff,” the letter said.

“We, humanitarian organizations from across the world, therefore, call upon you to urgently support this global emergency supply system with an initial $350 million to enable a rapid scale-up of logistics common services,” it added.

The services the WFP provides for the entire global humanitarian community will enable a swift, efficient response to COVID-19 for those most vulnerable.