UN has sought govt proposal for assistance, says Qureshi

Updated 31 Mar 2020


NDMA, health ministry told to provide requirements in fight against Covid-19. — AP/File
NDMA, health ministry told to provide requirements in fight against Covid-19. — AP/File

ISLAMABAD: The United Nations is likely to add Pakistan to its humanitarian appeal for helping it fight the pandemic and mitigate its impact on the country.

UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Pakistan Julien Frederic Morcom-Harneis in a meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi at the Foreign Office on Monday sought a joint proposal from Pakistan’s health ministry and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) for inclusion in the proposal.

“The UN is making a call for relief assistance for Pakistan. They require a joint proposal from the health ministry and NDMA for the call for assistance,” Mr Qureshi told Dawn after the meeting.

He assured the UN official that the government would extend all cooperation in the preparation of the appeal.

UN Secretary General António Guterres and heads of UN agencies had on March 25 launched a $2 billion global humanitarian response plan (GHRP) for Covid-19, aimed at helping countries with weak health systems avoid the worst and save lives. The World Health Organisation, the UN health agency, is the lead entity in the global fight against the pandemic.

NDMA, health ministry told to provide requirements in fight against Covid-19

Pakistan was not included in the initial appeal, which comprised countries with an ongoing Humanitarian Response Plan for addressing humanitarian emergency or a Regional Refugee Plan (RRP), the Refugee and Migrant Response Plan for Venezuela (RMRP), and countries covered by the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) for the Syria crisis, and the Joint Response Plan for Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis (JRP). Since Pakistan did not fall into any of those categories, it was not included in the GHRP. Iran was, however, an exception and was included due to the severe impact of the pandemic and its call for international assistance for dealing with the raging pandemic.

It had, however, been mentioned in the appeal that monitoring and assessment of the needs of other countries, which had not been included in the first edition of the appeal, was being done and could be subsequently included if required. Pakistan was among the listed 12 countries that were being closely followed, with others being Greece, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste and Zimbabwe, and regional groupings such as Central America and the Pacific.

Till Monday evening, Pakistan had over 1,700 confirmed patients of coronavirus out of nearly 15,000 tested so far. At least 23 patients died while 12 others were in critical condition. As per government claim, nearly one-third of the total confirmed cases are the result of local transmission.

FM Qureshi said the UN appeal would be about helping Pakistan with medical supplies and providing socio-economic assistance to the vulnerable.

Pakistan’s key requirements are ventilators, testing kits and personal protective equipment for medical personnel.

The government, meanwhile, announced relief assistance worth Rs50 billion for the 12 million most vulnerable people.

Mr Qureshi said Pakistan with its limited resources was effectively fighting Covid-19. “As a developing country, Pakistan is faced with economic challenges to deal with the pandemic,” he said.

The International Monetary Fund is also considering a Pakistani request for Rapid Financing Instrument for meeting immediate balance of payment needs and supporting the most affected sectors.

Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2020