UNICEF more than doubles coronavirus appeal to $1.6 bln

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) – United Nations children's agency UNICEF on Monday appealed for $ 1.6 billion, more than doubling its initial request for money two months ago to help children who are already suffering from humanitarian crises and now suffer from the coronavirus pandemic.

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UNICEF said it has so far received $ 215 million since the end of March.

The new coronavirus, which causes respiratory disease COVID-19, has infected about 4.1 million people worldwide and more than 282,000 have died, according to a Reuters report. The virus first appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of last year.

"We have seen what the pandemic is doing to countries with developed health systems and we are concerned about what it would do to countries with weaker systems and less available resources," said Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF.

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UNICEF is focusing its pandemic response on countries with existing humanitarian crises, working to prevent transmission and lessen the impact of the coronavirus on access to health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education and protection.

"The pandemic is a health crisis that is fast becoming a child rights crisis," said Fore. "These funds will help us to respond to the crisis, recover from its consequences and protect children from its side effects."

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A UNICEF analysis found that about 77% of children, or 1.8 billion, live in one of 132 countries with some form of movement restriction.

Last week, the United Nations more than tripled its call to help vulnerable countries combat the spread and destabilizing effects of the coronavirus pandemic, asking for $ 6.7 billion to help 63 states, mainly in Africa and America Latin.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres raised concerns about inadequate support for poor countries and deplored the lack of leadership by world powers and a divided international community in the fight against the coronavirus.

Despite more than six weeks of negotiations, the 15-member UN Security Council has been unable to reach agreement on a draft resolution that ultimately aims to support a March 23 request by Guterres for a cease- global conflicts so that the world can focus on the pandemic.

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The negotiations were thwarted by an impasse between China and the United States about the mention of the World Health Organization. The United States does not want a reference, China insisted on being included, while other members see the mention – or not – of WHO as a marginal issue, diplomats said. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Grant McCool)

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