UK and other wealthy governments must take action to protect world’s poorest countries during coronavirus pandemic
OVER 200 PARLIAMENTARIANS from across parties are calling on the UK Government to provide urgent support to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries and communities as they deal with the COVID-19 crisis.
The 210 MPs and peers want the UK Prime Minister, Chancellor and others to step up global aid and the coordination of response as the pandemic spreads to developing nations, often torn apart by civil war or conflict, with chronically weak healthcare systems, underdeveloped civic institutions, and a lack of medical equipment.
They argue in a letter to Boris Johnson that the pandemic does not respect national borders, GDP or military might, and that national leaderships must behave as one global community, with the most powerful prepared to look after the most vulnerable countries.
Specifically, they are calling on the UK Government to support the following measures as a matter of urgency:
To support the UN’s $2 billion Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19, while continuing to fund existing refugee and humanitarian response plans, and to lead the world by committing the UK’s fair share early and by making funding accessible to national humanitarian organisations.
- Scale up public health promotion programmes, water and sanitation provision and the distribution of hygiene materials in developing and fragile countries, delivering supplies of soap, personal protective equipment (PPE) and vital medical supplies.
- Champion and fund a locally-led humanitarian response that works with and through local, refugee and women-led organisations as experts. A global network of community-based responses, that respond to and reflect local needs is our best chance of ensuring men, women, boys and girls are able to access the information, services and assistance they need.
- Work with international partners to urgently increase the financial fire power of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to cope with the impact of the crisis on low and middle-income countries.
- Support the call by The World Bank and International Monetary Fund on the G20 and all bilateral and multilateral donors to agree to an immediate moratorium on debt interest payments for poor country governments without conditions. In Africa alone, this would free up an estimated $44bn this year to help finance their public health response.
- Support the UN Secretary General’s call for a global ceasefire including any UN Security Council resolution for a global ceasefire and/or key steps towards conflict de-escalation in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Rushanara Ali MP, who coordinated the letter to the PM, said:
‘Everyone understands the need to protect our own society and to support the government’s efforts to tackle COVID-19. We are all incredibly grateful for the heroic efforts of our NHS, social care and all other key workers across the UK.
‘However, the nature of this virus is that it crosses national borders, infects anyone regardless of who they are. What happens in developing countries affects us here at home.
‘Time is running out, the UK Government with the international community needs to take urgent action to provide an economic and humanitarian response before it becomes catastrophic for many developing and conflict-affected countries. This is not just a matter of humanitarianism, it is also a matter of self-interest.’
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Notes to Editors
1) For further information or comment please contact Rushanara Ali MP’s Office on 020 7219 7200 or email [email protected]
2) You can find more information on Rushanara’s work in Parliament on her website - https://www.rushanaraali.org/.