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U.N. Humanitarian Aid Request Due To COVID-19 More Than Triples

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Railway staff in Pakistan use a thermal scanner to check visitors for coronavirus symptoms. Pakistan was one of the nine countries added to the U.N.'s new aid plan.
K.M. Chaudary, AP

Railway staff in Pakistan use a thermal scanner to check visitors for coronavirus symptoms. Pakistan was one of the nine countries added to the U.N.'s new aid plan.

The United Nations is calling on members to contribute more to a global plan to fight the effects of coronavirus in "fragile countries."

As part of its Global Humanitarian Response Plan, the U.N. is requesting $6.7 billion in aid — more than tripling the $2 billion it requested in late March. Most of the countries that would receive the aid are located in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America. In total, the aid would reach 63 countries.

The U.N. said the effects on poorer countries could be long-lasting. It said that in some countries, the disease may not peak for another three to six months.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is hurting us all," U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said in a statement. "But the most devastating and destabilizing effects will be felt in the world's poorest countries. In the poorest countries we can already see economies contracting as export earnings, remittances and tourism disappear."

"Unless we take action now, we should be prepared for a significant rise in conflict, hunger and poverty," he added.

The U.N. plans to tailor the aid to the needs of different regions — for example, targeting high levels of food insecurity in Africa, job losses in Asia and the Middle East, and the recent exodus of millions from Venezuela as regional focuses.

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It also said it will prioritize helping "the most vulnerable" in these countries, including the elderly, people with disabilities, and women and girls.

"If we do not support the poorest people – especially women and girls and other vulnerable groups - as they battle the pandemic and impacts of the global recession, we will all be dealing with the spillover effects for many years to come," Lowcock said. "That would prove even more painful, and much more expensive, for everyone."

The U.N. says it has raised about $1 billion for the plan since late March.

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