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UN chief launches $2bn appeal for vulnerable nations with coronavirus

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United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres has launched a $2bn appeal to help vulnerable and conflict-torn countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and South America tackle the coronavirus pandemic and prevent Covid-19 from again circling the globe.

The UN chief called the amount a “drop in the ocean”, noting that the US Senate is seeking 2 trillion dollars — “1,000 times more” — for the American economy alone.

UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock announced a $60m contribution from the UN’s emergency relief fund to kick-start the appeal.

Mr Guterres said the 2 billion dollars is essential to keep economies in the developing world going so their health systems remain afloat to deal with the pandemic.

He said the money will also help countries already in the midst of a humanitarian crisis caused by conflicts, natural disasters and climate change.

He added: “The worst thing that could happen is to suppress the disease in developed countries and let it spread like fire in the developing world where then millions of transmissions will take place, millions of people will die, and the risk of mutations would be there, which means that the virus could come back.”

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