The Covid-19 pandemic is exacerbating an already difficult situation for populations in countries affected by humanitarian crises. Refugees and internally displaced persons will be especially vulnerable to coronavirus infection even as they continue to need protection, shelter, food, water and basic health services.
The Norwegian Government is now strengthening its humanitarian efforts by setting aside more money for the global humanitarian response to the pandemic and by giving more flexibility to humanitarian organisations, enabling them to better respond to the pandemic’s direct and indirect consequences.
‘I fear that the already grave humanitarian situation for the people of Afghanistan, Syria and many other countries in crisis will become even worse. That is why we are now increasing our earmarked humanitarian support for responses to the coronavirus pandemic, from NOK 10 million to NOK 100 million,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.
Currently, the recorded number of Covid-19 infected people in countries receiving humanitarian aid is relatively low, but the pandemic is already putting extraordinary pressure on humanitarian organisations. In the time ahead, a great deal of flexibility will be needed to ensure that the organisations can quickly prioritise efforts where the need is greatest at any time.
‘We are now informing our closest humanitarian partners that they will be given more flexibility to redirect humanitarian funds on a need basis. At the same time, we are increasing the portion of our humanitarian budget held in reserve so we can respond quickly as new needs arise,’ the Foreign Minister said.
To date, Norway has contributed NOK 10 million from the humanitarian budget to the World Health Organization (WHO) to help it respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, Norway has contributed NOK 15 million through its share of the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). The additional NOK 90 million will support the implementation of the UN Global Humanitarian Response Plan to the Covid-19 pandemic, which is launched today.
Norway has a total humanitarian budget of just over NOK 5.5 billion for 2020. The support is provided mainly to the UN, Norwegian humanitarian organisations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent movement.