Staff Reporter  

The United Nations (UN) has contributed USD 1.14 Million (M) to support the national Covid-19 preparedness and response and other immediate assistance.

The UN resident coordinator, Gerald Daly, on behalf of the 26 resident and non-resident UN agencies, funds, and programmes working in Bhutan handed over the amount to the Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering yesterday.

The resident coordinator said, “We need to cut through the red tape as much as possible while remaining effective and accountable. We are in an unprecedented situation and it can no longer be business as usual.”

He said that like the rest of the world, Bhutan is facing potential impacts from the virus. “But, through decisive action, and through working together, we do have a small window to get ahead of it,” he said. “These are challenging times. On behalf of the UN, I would like to commend the Royal Government for the hard work and results being achieved towards the Covid-19 preparedness and response plans and action.”

According to a press release, a contribution of USD 50,000 was provided to support Bhutan’s immediate needs of the quarantine facilities across the country.

USD 10,000 each came from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office (UNRCO).

Three UN agencies through their agency’s emergency funds have mobilised USD 1.09M of which certain portion have already been transferred to the government, while some are underway.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) mobilised USD 550,000, World Health Organisation (WHO) mobilised USD 244,500 and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) mobilised USD 300,000.

“Recognising the fact that Covid-19 is not just a health crisis and its social and economic impacts threaten to leave scars for years to come, the UN recognises the importance of a comprehensive, multi-dimensional response package,” stated the press release.

With WHO and UNICEF in the forefront supporting the government in its response in the health sector, the other UN agencies has also committed to extend technical support to the Covid-19 response plan, the national contingency plan, the economic stimulus plan and any other sectoral initiatives beyond the health sector.

“The UN hopes that all these actions will materialise into a comprehensive national response plan, which can be a guiding as well as a reference document for use by the Royal Government of Bhutan, and its development partners for resource mobilisation.”

UN Secretary General, António Guterres, said, “We are facing a global health crisis unlike any in the 75-year history of the United Nations – one that is spreading human suffering, infecting the global economy and upending people’s lives. This is, above all, a human crisis that calls for solidarity.”

The press release stated that the UN stands ready to undertake reprogramming within the joint RGoB-UN annual work-plan for 2020, to further support the government.