Category Archives: Message

Statement by the Secretary-General on the World Health Organization

As I said on 8 April: “The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most dangerous challenges this world has faced in our lifetime. It is above all a human crisis with severe health and socio-economic consequences.

The World Health Organization, with thousands of its staff, is on the front lines, supporting Member States and their societies, especially the most vulnerable among them, with guidance, training, equipment and concrete life-saving services as they fight the virus.

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.

This virus is unprecedented in our lifetime and requires an unprecedented response. Obviously, in such conditions, it is possible that the same facts have had different readings by different entities. Once we have finally turned the page on this epidemic, there must be a time to look back fully to understand how such a disease emerged and spread its devastation so quickly across the globe, and how all those involved reacted to the crisis. The lessons learned will be essential to effectively address similar challenges, as they may arise in the future.

But now is not that time.”

As it is not that time, it is also 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.

As I have said before, now is the time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences.

14 April 2020

New York

Secretary-General’s Message to Mark Easter, Passover and Ramadan: Renewing Faith in our Common Humanity in the Face of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Today, I want to make a special appeal to religious leaders of all faiths to join forces to work for peace around the world and focus on our common battle to defeat COVID19.

I do so at a special time on the spiritual calendar.

For Christians, it is the celebration of Easter.  Jews are marking Passover.  And soon, Muslims will begin the holy month of Ramadan.

I extend my warmest wishes to all those observing these important moments.

We have always known these occasions to be moments of community.  Of families coming together. Of hugs and handshakes and the gathering of humanity.

But this is a time like no other.

We are all seeking to navigate a strange, surreal world.

A world of silent streets. Shuttered storefronts. Empty places of worship.

And a world of worry.

We are worried about our loved ones who are equally worried about us.

How do we celebrate at a time like this?

Let us all take inspiration from the essence of these holy occasions as moments for reflection, remembrance and renewal.

As we reflect, let us spare a special thought for heroic health workers on the frontlines battling this awful virus – and for all those working to keep our cities and towns going.

Let us remember the most vulnerable of the vulnerable around the world. Those in war zones and refugee camps and slums and all those places least equipped to fight the virus.

And let us renew our faith in one another, and draw strength from the good that is gathering in troubled times as communities of diverse faiths and ethical traditions unite to care for one another.

Together, we can and will defeat this virus – with cooperation, solidarity, and faith in our common humanity.

11 April 2020

New York

Secretary-General statement on gender-based violence and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing untold human suffering and economic devastation around the world.

I recently called for an immediate global ceasefire to focus on our shared struggle to overcome the pandemic.

I appealed for an end to violence everywhere, now.

But violence is not confined to the battlefield.

For many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest.

In their own homes.

And so I make a new appeal today for peace at home — and in homes — around the world.

We know lockdowns and quarantines are essential to suppressing COVID-19. But they can trap women with abusive partners.

Over the past weeks as economic and social pressures and fear have grown, we have seen a horrifying global surge in domestic violence.

In some countries, the number of women calling support services has doubled.

Meanwhile, healthcare providers and police are overwhelmed and understaffed.

Local support groups are paralyzed or short of funds. Some domestic violence shelters are closed; others are full.

I urge all governments to make the prevention and redress of violence against women a key part of their national response plans for COVID-19.

That means increasing investment in online services and civil society organizations.

Making sure judicial systems continue to prosecute abusers.

Setting up emergency warning systems in pharmacies and groceries.

Declaring shelters as essential services.

And creating safe ways for women to seek support, without alerting their abusers.

Women’s rights and freedoms are essential to strong, resilient societies.

Together, we can and must prevent violence everywhere, from war zones to people’s homes, as we work to beat COVID-19.

7 April 2020

New York

Secretary -General message on World Health Day

World Health Day this year comes at a very difficult time for all of us.

My message today is to our health care workers — the nurses, midwives, technicians, para-medics, pharmacists, doctors, drivers, cleaners, administrators and many others — who work, day and night to keep us safe.

Today, we are more deeply grateful than ever to all of you, as you work, round the clock, put-ting yourselves at risk, to fight the ravages of this pandemic.

2020 is the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, and I want to recognize their specific expertise and commitment.

We have all had reason to give thanks for the care and professionalism of nurses and mid-wives. I know I do.

Nurses shoulder some of the biggest healthcare burdens. They perform difficult work and en-dure long hours, while risking injury, infection and the mental health burden that accompa-nies such traumatic work. They often provide comfort at the end of life.

Midwives provide comfort at the beginning of life. During a pandemic, their work is even more challenging, as you bring our newborn safely into this world.

To the nurses and midwives of the world: thank you for your work.

In these traumatic times, I say to all healthcare workers: we stand with you and we count on you.

You make us proud; you inspire us. We are indebted to you.

Thank you for the difference you are making, every day and everywhere.

7 April 2020

New York

All hands on deck to fight a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic

Only by coming together will the world be able to face down the COVID-19 pandemic and its shattering consequences. At an emergency virtual meeting last Thursday, G20 leaders took steps in the right direction.  But we are still far away from having a coordinated, articulated global response that meets the unprecedented magnitude of what we are facing. More

Secretary-General’s remarks at launch of Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19

The world faces an unprecedented threat.

The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly covered the globe. It has spread suffering, disrupted billions of lives and endangered the global economy.

COVID-19 is menacing the whole of humanity – and so the whole of humanity must fight back. Individual country responses are not going to be enough.

Wealthy countries with strong health systems are buckling under the pressure.

Now, the virus is arriving in countries already in the midst of humanitarian crises caused by conflicts, natural disasters and climate change.

These are places where people who have been forced to flee their homes because of bombs, violence or floods are living under plastic sheets in fields, or crammed into refugee camps or informal settlements.

They do not have homes in which to socially distance or self-isolate.

They lack clean water and soap with which to do that most basic act of self-protection against the virus – washing their hands.

And should they become critically ill, they have no way of accessing a healthcare system that can provide a hospital bed and a ventilator.

We must come to the aid of the ultra-vulnerable – millions upon millions of people who are least able to protect themselves.

This is a matter of basic human solidarity.

It is also crucial for combatting the virus.

The world is only as strong as our weakest health system. If we do not act decisively now, I fear the virus will establish a foothold in the most fragile countries, leaving the whole world vulnerable as it continues to circle the planet, paying no mind to borders.

This is the moment to step up for the vulnerable.

Older persons, persons with chronic illness and persons with disabilities face particular, disproportionate risks, and require an all-out effort to save their lives and protect their future.

We are also aware of the heavy impact the crisis is having on the world’s women across many fronts, in particular losses of livelihood, increased burdens of unpaid care labour, and the heightened exposure to domestic violence.

Today we are launching a $2 billion global humanitarian response plan to fund the fight against COVID-19 in the world’s poorest countries.

Coordinated by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, this interagency plan brings together existing appeals from the World Health Organization and other UN partners, and identifies new needs as well.

Properly funded, it will save many lives and arm humanitarian agencies and NGOs with laboratory supplies for testing, and with medical equipment to treat the sick while protecting health care workers.

The plan also includes additional measures to support host communities that continue to generously open their homes and towns to refugees and displaced persons.

We need to act now to stem the impact of COVID-19 in already vulnerable humanitarian contexts.

And we need to maintain support for existing humanitarian response plans on which 100 million people depend.

If such funding is diverted, the consequences could be catastrophic: the further spread of cholera, measles and meningitis; greater levels of child malnutrition; and a blow to the ability of these countries to combat the virus.

Let us do everything we can to prevent COVID-19 from wreaking havoc in places with limited healthcare capacity and resilience.

At the same time, we are doing our utmost to plan for and respond to early recovery in the countries around the globe that will need it most so that we achieve a new sustainable and inclusive economy that leaves no-one behind. I have asked United Nations Resident Coordinators and UN Country Teams to support countries around the world in addressing the socio-economic implications of this pandemic, [which] will require an adequate funding mechanism.

But now we need to support this humanitarian response plan, which is a necessity for global health security.

It is a moral imperative and in everyone’s interests.

And it is a crucial part of winning this fight.

I appeal to Governments to give it their full support.

Thank you.

New York

25 March 2020

Secretary-General’s Appeal for Global Ceasefire

Our world faces a common enemy: COVID-19.

The virus does not care about nationality or ethnicity, faction or faith. It attacks all, relentlessly.

Meanwhile, armed conflict rages on around the world.

The most vulnerable — women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the displaced — pay the highest price.

They are also at the highest risk of suffering devastating losses from COVID-19.

Let’s not forget that in war-ravaged countries, health systems have collapsed.

Health professionals, already few in number, have often been targeted.

Refugees and others displaced by violent conflict are doubly vulnerable.

The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war.

That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world.

It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.

To warring parties, I say:

Pull back from hostilities.

Put aside mistrust and animosity.

Silence the guns; stop the artillery; end the airstrikes.

This is crucial…

To help create corridors for life-saving aid.

To open precious windows for diplomacy.

To bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.

Let us take inspiration from coalitions and dialogue slowly taking shape among rival parties in some parts to enable joint approaches to COVID-19. But we need much more.

End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world.

It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now.

That is what our human family needs, now more than ever.

New York

23 March 2020