OCHA AND COVID-19
The coronavirus now has a foothold in 216 countries, areas or territories. Some of these are countries that are already in crisis due to conflicts, natural disasters and climate change. They are home to a large number of people in need of emergency assistance.
Through these challenging times, OCHA is determined that its crucial life-saving work is sustained. More than 100 million people already rely on support from the United Nations’ humanitarian agencies. OCHA’s top priority is to ensure that we do the best we can to keep providing life-saving help for those people, while supporting the wider system’s response to COVID-19.
The international humanitarian community responding to COVID-19 comprises a vast number of international and local organizations. More information about the humanitarian community’s achievements is available online.
Swift fundraising, focused coordination across the humanitarian system, and ongoing, effective humanitarian operations are now more essential than ever. OCHA is enabling this by:
- OCHA is working closely across the UN system, with UN Member States and the private sector to ensure that funding and equipment are available to fight COVID-19 in the world’s most vulnerable countries.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has appealed for $675 million to fund the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- At the end of March 2020, the UN launched a US$2 billion coordinated global humanitarian response plan to fight COVID-19 in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries in a bid to protect millions of people and stop the virus from circling back around the globe. The COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan is being implemented by UN agencies, with international NGOs and NGO consortiums playing a direct role in the response.
- The Response Plan was revised in early May 2020 to include a $6.71 billion appeal and an updated global plan, with a series of annexes, to fight the coronavirus in fragile countries. On 16 July 2020, an updated plan was released, along with annexes, to include a $10.3 billion appeal to fight the pandemic in the most vulnerable and low-income countries. The Response Plan is 39.8 per cent funded as of 23 February 2021.
- As of 23 February 2021, the Emergency Relief Coordinator has released US$241 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to help fund efforts to contain the virus in vulnerable countries.
- OCHA has been assessing the use of Country-Based Pooled Funds (CBPFs) at the field level to help channel immediate support to COVID-related needs. As of 23 February 2021, 16 CBPFs have provided $251 million to COVID-19 pandemic responses. In some countries, CBPFs are reviewing requests for reprogramming pre-existing projects to the COVID-19 context.
- So far, programmes in more than 50 countries have been supported through combined funding of $492 million from CERF and CPBFs, and additional countries are being identified under the Global Humanitarian Response Fund.
- OCHA is grateful for the generous donors of the Humanitarian Response Plans and stresses the importance of resources and capacities not being diverted from these current life-saving activities.
- In the countries where it operates, OCHA is helping Resident Coordinators/Humanitarian Coordinators work closely with the host governments to prepare response plans to fight the virus and to ensure that aid continues to reach those people most in need.
- OCHA has embedded staff in a new, dedicated coordination team and supply chain cell that has been established within WHO with other agencies in Geneva to support coordination, information management and logistical/supply chain issues in the humanitarian response system.
- Through the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, is convening Principals from humanitarian agencies and NGOs to agree on coordinated response measures.
Ensuring safe and effective humanitarian operations
- The UN and partners are maintaining humanitarian operations while taking precautions to ensure the safety of staff and the people we serve.
- UN agencies are currently assessing where and how humanitarian operations are being disrupted to try to identify solutions as quickly as possible.
- OCHA is raising awareness of COVID-19 among vulnerable communities.
- OCHA is sharing WHO messaging across the humanitarian community and is supporting humanitarian country teams to develop consistent humanitarian messaging on COVID-19.
- OCHA is using its communication channels to raise awareness among humanitarian populations of how to protect themselves from COVID-19.