COVID-19: LWF joins global UN appeal to help the most vulnerable

UN Secretary-General António Guterres during a briefing on COVID-19 at WHO headquarters in Geneva. 24 February 2020. UN Photo / Jean Marc Ferré

Joint action to respond to “unprecedented threat” of coronavirus pandemic 

(LWI) - The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) together with other organizations is joining the global appeal of the United Nations (UN) for donations to respond to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The UN is calling for 2 billion USD to support the most vulnerable countries in their fight against the virus. 

This is the first time that the United Nations has issued a global appeal, as it normally focuses on countries or regions. LWF has been involved in developing the global appeal through the Standing Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR)

“COVID-19 poses an unprecedented threat which the whole of humanity must fight,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Leaving vulnerable countries to deal with the virus alone, he warned, might give the disease a “foothold” in marginalized regions, from where it could mutate and continue to affect the world for years to come. 

Concern about refugee camps  

The United Nations is concerned about populations is countries with fragile health care systems and densely populated refugee camps, where protection measures like physical distancing and hand washing with soap and clean water are difficult or even impossible to implement. The response will be coordinated through the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) which is the UN coordination mechanism for all UN agencies. INGOs are represented there through their coordination bodies. LWF participates through the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR). 

“The world is facing such an enormous challenge that none of us can address it alone. Collaboration is crucial if we are to reach those most at risk and in need of help,”said Maria Immonen, director of the LWF’s humanitarian arm World Service, and vice-chair of SCHR. 

“As a key partner to the UN in its humanitarian action worldwide, the LWF is currently involved at many levels. As co-chair of the SCHR, I am participating in global coordination planning meetings with other principals of the major INGO families and the heads of all UN agencies, to make sure that the entire sector's response is planned and carried out in ways which increase the impact of joint action.” 

Strengthen LWF hygiene and protection work 

As a major UN implementing partner, LWF already issued a call for donations. All LWF World Service work on COVID-19 will be coordinated with the UN system. LWF plans to increase activities which are particularly relevant for COVID-19 response: water and sanitation, education and awareness raising, psychosocial support and child protection. Even though the virus affects children less than elderly adults, the circumstances and measures taken to contain the pandemic put them at risk.  

“Children without parents or with parents who are sick, are at serious risk of abuse and neglect. We also need to ensure that work against violence in families and communities continues, as this pandemic adds even more stress and fear to many, whose situations are already very, very fragile,” Immonen explains. LWF staff also need support and protective measures to be able to continue their work. 

A call to prayer for staff on the front lines 

LWF also asks churches worldwide for spiritual support and prayer. “Pray for those who cannot make noise for themselves, for those who are vulnerable at a degree, that we in the North find difficult to imagine, for those whose lives are still impacted by impending hunger from the locusts, from drought, and from war,” Immonen says. 

“We also ask you to pray for our staff, that they remain strong, hopeful and compassionate, even as their own situations become difficult.” 


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