April 01, 2020

Cardin, Senate Democrats to Pompeo: Contribute At Least $500 Million to United Nations’ Covid-19 Efforts

WASHINGTON—In response to the United Nations’ $2 billion emergency appeal last week to help fight COVID-19, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D- Md.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Wednesday joined 16 Senate Democratic colleagues in urging the State Department to join the international community in funding international humanitarian assistance and protect the more than 70 million displaced people globally. Specifically, the senators urged United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to contribute at least $500 million to the United Nation’s interagency emergency appeal issued last week to fight COVID-19 around the world.

“While all countries are struggling to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19, areas with existing humanitarian crises are particularly vulnerable and ill-equipped to tackle this global pandemic. Internally displaced people (IDPs), refugees, and asylum seekers often come from war-torn, fragile, and poor countries with little to no health care systems in place: a toxic combination that will make the scourge of COVID-19 particularly deadly,” the senators wrote.

The senators continued: “The COVID-19 epidemic has devastated some of the world’s best healthcare systems, and will surely wreak havoc on displaced people who are already living at a disadvantage. We urge you to join the international community in answering the call from the United Nations by contributing at least $500 million toward this lifesaving $2 billion appeal.”

In addition to Senator Cardin the letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.).

A full text of the letter can be found here and below. 

Dear Secretary Pompeo,

While all countries are struggling to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19, areas with existing humanitarian crises are particularly vulnerable and ill-equipped to tackle this global pandemic. Internally displaced people (IDPs), refugees, and asylum seekers often come from war-torn, fragile, and poor countries with little to no health care systems in place: a toxic combination that will make the scourge of COVID-19 particularly deadly. To counter this threat, the United Nations has released an emergency humanitarian appeal for $2 billion to address the immediate needs of displaced populations. We urge you to join the rest of the international community by contributing at least $500 million from funding for international humanitarian assistance toward this UN appeal, to help protect more than 70 million displaced people around the world and save countless lives, including in the United States. 

The world’s humanitarian crises have already disadvantaged the health of millions of people living in displacement. Some of the most effective defenses against COVID-19 - frequent hand washing, social distancing, and widespread testing - are virtually unavailable to people living in overcrowded informal settlements and refugee camps. In countries like Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, South Sudan, and Afghanistan, years of conflict have decimated health systems. Widespread malnutrition in countries like Venezuela, Burundi, and Chad contributes to immunodeficiency and, consequently, greater susceptibility to infectious agents. And nearly 90 percent of people in displacement worldwide live in poor or lower middle-income countries like Jordan, Bangladesh, Kenya or Pakistan. Those countries’ weak health systems will face enormous strains in coping with COVID-19 just for their own citizens, let alone for the displaced people they host. In the absence of international humanitarian assistance to address these widespread weaknesses, millions of peoples’ lives will be at serious risk and new outbreaks will threaten the entire global community.

Displaced people around the world depend on lifesaving humanitarian assistance from the UN and its partners to feed their families, receive medical treatment, and provide shelter. The COVID-19 epidemic has devastated some of the world’s best healthcare systems, and will surely wreak havoc on displaced people who are already living at a disadvantage. We urge you to join the international community in answering the call from the United Nations by contributing at least $500 million toward this lifesaving $2 billion appeal.

Sincerely,

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