In response to the coordinated calls for aid for the March-December 2020 period of approximately two billion US dollars by the UN and around 800 million Swiss francs by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the German Government is providing 300 million euros for measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in humanitarian emergencies. The funds will be used to finance urgently needed humanitarian aid measures in the field of prevention and to lessen the potentially disastrous impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in crisis contexts. This support will help to address the logistical challenges caused by the pandemic in the field of humanitarian aid and to help refugee camps, e.g. by providing testing, improving healthcare and supplying water and sanitation facilities.
Aid is urgently needed in crisis contexts
The additional funding is urgently needed in order to ensure that especially vulnerable groups are protected and receive humanitarian aid, as COVID-19 poses a particularly great threat in humanitarian crises, above all in refugee and displacement contexts. People often live in very cramped quarters, suffer from malnutrition and are already at greater risk of illness following severe physical exertion. Moreover, it is hardly possible to adhere to precautionary measures such as social distancing or hygiene regulations. In addition, national healthcare systems are often weak and overburdened. Humanitarian agencies are currently working flat out to prepare for the pandemic in the context of prevailing crisis situations.
This incurs significant additional costs. For example, protective equipment needs to be procured, hygiene measures put in place, and camps for refugees and internally displaced persons prepared to deal with the pandemic, e.g. by setting up isolation units. Furthermore, the aid organisations face unprecedented logistical challenges due to border closures and disrupted supply chains. The World Food Programme (WFP), which has extensive experience of tackling crises, is the UN’s logistical backbone. It is working at top speed in order to ensure supplies for people in need despite the worldwide restrictions.
International call for aid
The UN’s COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan, which will be implemented by the major UN agencies and NGOs, covers urgently needed humanitarian requirements caused by the pandemic. It is the first-ever global aid plan of its kind, and the UN expects that more funding will be needed in the near future. Rapid aid is now crucial in order to contain the spread of the virus through hygiene measures, sanitation and information campaigns and to facilitate humanitarian healthcare for people who are sick.
The humanitarian system must remain capable of acting
The German Government’s long-standing strategic strengthening of the humanitarian system and its instruments is now paying off. The humanitarian system works and humanitarian organisations remain capable of responding effectively despite the worldwide restrictions. Germany has systematically strengthened the international humanitarian system coordinated by the UN, e.g. through its core contributions to humanitarian organisations and significant amounts of funding to financial mechanisms such as the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the Country-Based Pooled Funds (CBPFs).
In order to quickly safeguard the humanitarian system’s ability to act and respond in the COVID-19 crisis, Germany has already pledged or allotted 80 percent (1.4 billion euros) of its annual funding earlier than planned (including for the WFP, UNHCR, the ICRC, the CERF and CBPFs). With regard to regional projects and projects on key issues, Germany is giving NGOs and international organisations significant flexibility to adopt measures to tackle COVID-19 or to redirect funding to such measures. Front-loading and greater flexibility give humanitarian partners maximum scope and essential planning security. COVID-19 measures, such as information campaigns, measures to protect people from infection, and measures in the fields of healthcare, logistics and water, sanitation and hygiene can thus be carried out without delay.
By providing additional funding, Germany is now playing a major role in safeguarding humanitarian organisations’ ability to work effectively, to save lives through rapid aid and to contain the spread of the pandemic.