On May 15, eighty-four organizations wrote to Congressional leaders supporting full United Nations FY’21 funding, including to the World Health Organization (WHO), paying back our arrears, and lifting the arbitrary 25% cap on peacekeeping contributions.
The ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the groups write, highlights the need for strong and collective multilateral action. Since the onset of the disease, the entire United Nations system has been hard at work:
- WHO is on the ground in 149 countries helping countries scale-up testing and access essential personal protective equipment, while also coordinating research and innovation efforts to advance drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics;
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is scaling up assistance to refugee camps;
- UNICEF is supporting the millions of children who are out of school;
- The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is strengthening health systems to ensure reproductive and maternal health care;
- The World Food Programme (WFP) has established air hubs to distribute vital food and medical supplies across Africa; and
- UN peacekeeping missions are using troop patrols to educate on mitigation measures.
In addition, the organization’s write, the existing work of many of these UN agencies remains vital. For example, the vast majority of global deaths from HIV, measles, and malaria and one in four deaths from tuberculosis are in Africa; we cannot curtail ongoing mitigation efforts or the ramifications of COVID-19 will be even more destructive.
However, there are mounting budgetary shortfalls that the UN is facing on several fronts, which imperils this work. Addressing these challenges requires more U.S. engagement, not less, and meeting our financial commitments to the UN and UN agencies.