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PARIS, France (3rd UPDATE) – 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, April 15.
Trump announced Tuesday, April 14, that the United States would halt payments to the UN body that amounted to $400 million last year.
Here are some of the reactions from across the world to Trump’s move:
‘No time to waste’
“We regret the decision of the president of the United States to order a halt in funding to the World Health Organization” – WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a virtual news conference.
“There is no time to waste. WHO’s singular focus is on working to serve all people to save lives and stop the COVID-19 pandemic” he said earlier on Twitter.
‘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 organization 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.”
“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 can we overcome this crisis that knows no borders.”
“The USgovt decision to suspend funding to @WHO is deeply regrettable” – African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat on Twitter.
“Today more than ever, the world depends on WHO’s leadership to steer the global #Covid_19 pandemic response. Our collective responsibility to ensure WHO can fully carry out its mandate, has never been more urgent.”
‘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.”
French government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye said: “This is a decision we regret,” adding that Paris was hoping for “a return to normal” so the WHO can continue its work.
Britain did not criticize Trump’s decision although it said it would not follow the US lead.
“It (the WHO) has an important role to play in leading the global health response to this pandemic. We want to see the WHO continue to learn lessons on how to improve its response to global health emergencies.”
Finland meanwhile said it would boost its own funding for the WHO to 5.5 million euros.
“It is a sign of the very selfish approach of the US authorities to what is happening in the world due to the pandemic” – Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov.
“Such a blow to this organization just when the international community is looking towards it…is a step worthy of condemnation and every reproach.”
US ‘kills people’
“The shameful defunding of WHO amid a pandemic will live in infamy” – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Twitter.
“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.”
‘Need 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.
Billionaire and one-time Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg said: “Withholding funding from the WHO is an attempt by the president to shift blame for his own failures to prepare our country for this crisis – and tragically, it will lead to more suffering and death around the world.”
‘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 Agence France-Presse.
“This means weakening our central global institution,” said the 71-year-old doctor and former Norwegian prime minister. – Rappler.com