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UN chief seeks support for WHO amid row with Trump

WHO on front lines helping UN members, societies fight COVID-19 pandemic, says Antonio Guterres

Servet Gunerigok   | 08.04.2020
UN chief seeks support for WHO amid row with Trump

WASHINGTON

The UN on Wednesday sought international support for the World Health Organization (WHO) after backlash from U.S. President Donald Trump for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the WHO is on the front lines helping UN members and societies fight the COVID-19 pandemic with "concrete" services.

"It is my belief that the World Health Organization must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against Covid-19," he said.

Guterres cited his experience, a visit to Democratic Republic of the Congo last year where he said witnessed efforts of WHO staff in "precarious conditions and very dangerous remote locations as they fight the deadly Ebola virus.

"It has been a remarkable success for WHO that no new cases of Ebola have been registered in month," he added.

The remarks came a day after Trump said the U.S. "is looking at" suspending funding to the international health body after accusing it of being "China centric."

The U.S. is the largest contributor to the WHO's budget.

Trump ignited a firestorm when he tweeted Tuesday: "The WHO really blew it. For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China-centric. We will be giving that a good look. Fortunately, I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?"

The UN chief described the coronavirus as "one of the most dangerous challenges," which he said is "above all a human crisis with severe health and socio-economic consequences."

"But now is not that time. Now is the time for unity, for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences," he added. 

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