UN launches COVID-19 response plan for Pacific islands


UN Secretary-General António Guterres briefs the media on the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Xinhua)

UNITED NATIONS, May 8 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations has launched a COVID-19 response plan for 14 countries and territories in the Pacific suffering the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan, which requires 35.3 million US dollars, addresses immediate needs in education, food security, livelihoods, water and sanitation, nutrition, protection, logistics, as well as emergency telecommunications, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, on Friday.

"Although existing UN resources have been redirected toward the pandemic response, there is still a 19-million-US dollar funding gap," Dujarric said.

While some Pacific countries have no confirmed cases of the virus, their economies are already deeply impacted, with a massive contraction of income from tourism, foreign trade, and overseas remittances, he said.

"The governments, the UN, as well as all of our partners, are focusing on a speedy recovery that protects the most vulnerable, especially women and children, as well as jobs and small businesses," he said.

The response plan was launched on Thursday by two UN resident coordinators who are leading the UN teams covering the 14 Pacific countries and territories.

An additional Pacific health plan, led by the World Health Organization, requires 42 million dollars for procurement, training of medical personnel and risk communications, said Dujarric.

These funds will complement resources from the Multi-Partner Trust Fund for COVID-19 Response and Recovery, which was launched by the UN secretary-general to address the impacts in highly fragile, climate-vulnerable and tourism-dependent economies. Some of these countries of the Pacific are still recovering from the impacts of recent Cyclone Harold, Dujarric said.