Fund appeals surge as COVID-19 rages

Multilaterals added to funding appeals in May as the cost of combating the pandemic outstripped earlier estimates.

UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock more than tripled the $2 billion appeal from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ original response plan this month as he called for $6.7 billion in new funding—part of a larger bid to prevent a “sharp rise” in conflict, hunger, poverty, and disease triggered by the coronavirus.

In a separate, child-focused humanitarian response, UNICEF added almost a billion dollars to its March appeal, announcing on May 12 an expanded $1.6 billion target to blunt “collateral impacts on children, women and vulnerable populations.”

Meanwhile, the European Commission held a monthlong “pledging marathon” in May to support the WHO-led Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and related efforts. As of writing, the pledge has raised about $10.3 billion—handily surpassing its original target of $8.2 billion. Some of those funds went to Gavi, part of at least $2 billion the vaccine alliance raised ahead of its June 4 pledging conference.

The appeals and pledges came as U.S. President Donald Trump issued a May 19 letter threatening to permanently freeze WHO funding, even after the health organization projected a $1.3 billion funding gap for its COVID-19 response this year.

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