Posted on 29 April 2020
Fourteen leading New Zealand aid agencies have today called on the New Zealand government to step in with immediate humanitarian assistance to save millions of lives in the world’s worst crisis and emergency situations.
The organisations have published a joint statement calling for extra humanitarian funding for people in places less able to fight the coronavirus pandemic, to prevent a catastrophic human toll in conflict areas and developing countries.
Ian McInnes, Council for International Development Chair and Tearfund CEO said: “New Zealand is in the extraordinary position of potentially beating Covid-19, but we can’t stop here. Opening our borders and resuming life as normal requires we now act to support communities far more vulnerable than our own, in countries with far weaker health systems and just as much to lose.”
“The severe challenges responding to the devastation of Cyclone Harold in places like Vanuatu show, right on our doorstep, the double-whammy of a crisis situation with coronavirus. In crises like this, people are living in makeshift shelters, crowded close together, sharing water sources with often hundreds of others, and very basic, or no, health services.”
“Pandemics know no borders, and neither does compassion. We must not leave anyone behind as we fight this virus. The New Zealand government is rightly taking radical action to eradicate it from our nation and support people through these hard times, even as many of us worry about our health and our jobs. Across the world, the coronavirus is threatening to set the fight against poverty back by decades, but we can turn the tide by increasing funds for vital humanitarian work, especially through NGOs who know their local communities and have strong relationships with people in need.”
According to the group, millions of lives are at stake in developing countries that have limited resources, weak health systems and high debt levels. Imperial College estimates that without interventions at least 40 million people across the world may die.
As a first step towards New Zealand’s fair share, the letter calls on the government to provide NZ$25million in immediate, additional humanitarian funding as part of an emergency coronavirus response to boost life-saving assistance for people already living in the world’s worst crisis and emergency situations.
Needs were already high before coronavirus hit. Now they are even higher, the agencies say we must provide more resources and not divert support already committed to poor countries. The group asks the New Zealand government to help free up spending for global public health by advocating for the immediate cancellation of all external debt payments due to be made in 2020 by developing country governments and to protect and maintain existing commitments to aid and climate finance.
The aid agencies are currently responding to the global pandemic in developing countries, partnering with local organisations to provide access to soap and clean water, promote good hygiene, and provide accurate information to communities on how to protect themselves against the virus.
Here is the open letter to the New Zealand Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Minister of Finance.