'The last thing we need now is to attack the WHO' - World leaders express need for funding


The US decision to freeze funding to the World Health Organization over what President Donald Trump said was its "mismanaging" of the global coronavirus pandemic triggered anger and concern on Wednesday.

Trump announced on Tuesday that the United States would halt payments to the UN body that amounted to $400 million last year.

He said it would be frozen pending a review into the WHO's role in "severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus," said Trump, who accused the Geneva-based body of putting "political correctness above life-saving measures".

Trump charged that the outbreak could have been contained "with very little death" if the WHO had accurately assessed the situation in China, where the disease broke out in December 2019.

Here are some of the reactions from across the world to Trump's move:

'Critical to war against virus'

"(It is) not the time to reduce the resources for the operations of the World Health Organization or any other humanitarian organisation in the fight against the virus" - UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

"It is my belief that the World Health Organization must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world's efforts to win the war against Covid-19."

'Undermining international cooperation'

"China is seriously concerned about the US announcement to suspend funding for the World Health Organization" - Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

"The current global epidemic situation is grim. It is at a critical moment. This US decision will weaken WHO's capacities and undermine the international cooperation against the epidemic."

"We urge the United States to earnestly fulfill their responsibilities and obligations, and support the WHO-led international action against the epidemic," Zhao said, adding that the agency plays an "irreplaceable role" against the pandemic.

'No justification'

"Deeply regret US decision to suspend funding to WHO" - EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Twitter.

"There is no reason justifying this move at a moment when their efforts are needed more than ever to help contain and mitigate the coronavirus pandemic.

"Only by joining forces we can overcome this crisis that knows no borders."

'Blaming others won't help'

"Blaming others won't help. The virus knows no borders" -- German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Twitter.

"One of the best investments is to strengthen the UN, above all the under-financed WHO... in the development and distribution of tests and vaccines."

'World needs WHO more than ever'

"Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds. Their work is slowing the spread of Covid-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs @WHO now more than ever" - Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on Twitter. Through his foundation, Gates is one of the main private funders of the WHO.

'Weakening central institution'

"The last thing we need now is to attack the WHO" - former WHO director-general Gro Harlem Brundtland in a statement to AFP.

"This means weakening our central global institution," said the 71-year-old doctor and former Norwegian prime minister who headed the WHO between 1997 and 2003.

'Bullying, threatening & vainglorious blathering'

Iran said the world is learning that the United States "kills people".

"The shameful defunding of WHO amid a pandemic will live in infamy," Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter.

"The world is learning what Iran has known & experienced all along," he said.

"US regime's bullying, threatening & vainglorious blathering isn't just an addiction: it kills people."

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