As the coronavirus continues to impact low-income countries, New Zealand aid agencies welcome the $7m in aid funding announced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to help some of the world’s most vulnerable people at risk from the virus.
Aid agency coalition spokesperson and Tearfund CEO Ian McInnes said:
“We welcome the announcement of this desperately needed humanitarian funding. It comes as the first cases of coronavirus are recorded in crisis-stricken areas, such as the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh where super-cyclone Amphan is predicted to also cause devastation in the next 24 hours. It’s hard to imagine the horrific impact it will have on people already living in the harshest conditions as they struggle to physically distance themselves and maintain good hygiene with limited access to clean water.”
He said, “As the coronavirus continues to spread, the humanitarian need is only going to increase. With the global pandemic deepening existing crises such as the Rohingya refugee crisis and cyclone responses in the Pacific, the amount of funding required globally now is significant, and nations cannot pull back now in the face of mounting global need.”
While the coalition believes that the funding is not enough, it is a start and at a time when there are many calls on public finances.
“Even so, we would hope that New Zealand will continue to hear our global neighbours’ call for help and will continue prioritising humanitarian contributions. For instance, when the Asian tsunami devastated communities in 2004, we provided the equivalent of over $61 million in humanitarian funding. We know that Kiwis are willing and ready to look after others in times of great need.”
Mr McInnes said we need to make sure nobody is left out of the world’s response. Limiting outbreaks of coronavirus in the most vulnerable areas and communities is vital because no one is safe until we are all safe.
In April, an open letter from the coalition of 14 international aid agencies called for $25 million in urgent, additional humanitarian support to help those living in the world’s harshest places, such as refugee camps and war zones.
Since then, the UN renewed its Global Humanitarian Response Fund, including an expansion of the amount it requires to fund the Plan, from the initial US$2bn to a total US$6.7 bn. This reflects the fact that the coronavirus has now reached every country, and its worst effects are expected to hit those most vulnerable over the coming three to six months.
Notes to editors:
The aid agency coalition members are: Care, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, CWS, Council for International Development, Engineers Without Borders, FairTrade A/NZ, Family Planning New Zealand, Hagar New Zealand, Oxfam New Zealand, Rotary World Service New Zealand, Tearfund, Transparency International New Zealand, UnionAid, World Vision.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Kelsey-Rae Taylor on Kelsey-Rae.Taylor@oxfam.org.nz or +6421 298 5894.