Intl. reactions to US decision to cut WHO funding

TEHRAN, Apr. 15 (MNA) – The US president's decision to cut funding to the World Health Organization amid the coronavirus pandemic was strongly condemned by the international community, and some health experts have called it a crime against humanity.

Condemning World Health Organization (WHO) for putting countless lives at risk, US President Donald Trump on Tuesday declared that the US is freezing payments to the WHO over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Donald Trump said that the US funding would be put on hold for 60-90 days pending a review to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.

His announcement followed by reactions of the international community and some health experts who called Trump’s action as a ‘crime against humanity’ and a ‘damnable’ act that will cost lives.

His decision has prompted widespread international condemnation.

In reaction to US move to halt WHO funding amid coronavirus pandemic, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “It is not the time to reduce the resources for the operations of the World Health Organisation or any other humanitarian organization in the fight against the virus.”

“The WHO was absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against COVID-19,” he added.

Guterres has also called on the international community to "work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences".

Russia also Wednesday condemned US President Donald Trump for cutting funding to the World Health Organisation, saying his decision was selfish and hurt a body that many countries were looking to for leadership amid the coronavirus crisis.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that the US announcement was very alarming.

The move also drew a rebuke from China and Germany.

China urged the United States on Wednesday to fulfill its obligations to the WHO, saying, “The pandemic, which has infected nearly 2 million people globally, was at a critical stage and that Washington’s decision would affect all countries of the world.”

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Twitter, “Apportioning blame doesn’t help. The virus knows no borders.”

“We have to work closely together against #COVID19. One of the best investments is to strengthen the @UN, especially the under-funded @WHO, for example for developing and distributing tests and vaccines,” he added.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also issued a statement in reaction to Trump’s decision, saying on Wednesday, “G20 nations have supported the World Health Organization (WHO)'s coronavirus response at the recent teleconference.”

"In this case, we can recap March 26, the urgent summit of G20 leaders. G20 presidents held a summit, after which they adopted a coordinated statement, called 'Statement on COVID-19.' It says that the G20 and the WHO are firmly committed to doing everything possible to overcome the pandemic," he added.

The statement says that G20 leaders fully support the WHO's effort and intend to bolster its authority on coordinating the coronavirus response, the Kremlin spokesman noted.

In the meantime, Brussels has also addressed Trump's move.

"Deeply regret US decision to suspend funding to the WHO. There is no reason justifying this move at a moment when their efforts are needed more than ever", EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Twitter.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also reacted to US move, wrote in a tweet, “The world is learning what Iran has known & experienced all along: US regime's bullying, threatening & vainglorious blathering isn’t just an addiction: it kills people.”

“Like "maximum pressure" against Iran, the shameful defunding WHO amid a pandemic will live in infamy,” he added.

Laurie Garrett, a former senior fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, said the decision was a “damnable” act by a “spiteful” Trump and would cost lives.

Richard Horton, the editor-in-chief of the Lancet medical journal, wrote that Trump’s decision was “a crime against humanity … Every scientist, every health worker, every citizen must resist and rebel against this appalling betrayal of global solidarity.”

Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, said, “The WHO did make mistakes and may need reform but that work needed to take place after the crisis had passed. It’s not the middle of a pandemic that you do this type of thing.”

Report by Zahra Mirzafarjouyan

News Code 157659

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