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The U.S. Role in International Organizations’ Response to COVID-19
April 1, 2020

“Whenever you see high quality, effective COVID-19 aid being delivered around the world by UN humanitarian and relief agencies, what you are seeing is the generosity of the American people and those who share our humanitarian values.  We are by far the largest contributors to organizations like the UN Children’s Fund and the World Food Program because we believe in effective multilateralism that is focused on helping those in need, not scoring political points. This is what true global leadership looks like.”

— Secretary Michael R. Pompeo, March 27, 2020

The United States is by far the most generous and reliable contributor to crisis response and humanitarian action through the United Nations and dozens of international organizations. U.S. assistance, monetary and in-kind contributions, expertise and technology, are indispensable to the effort to combat COVID-19.  Examples include:

U.S. Support to the World Health Organization (WHO)

  • The United States has been the largest supporter of the World Health Organization since its creation in 1948. U.S. contributions to WHO in 2019 exceeded $400 million, almost double the 2nd largest member state contribution. China, in contrast, contributed $44 million.
  • WHO is coordinating the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is on the ground in 149 countries around the world. This broad-based effort would not be possible without U.S. support.
  • The United States and other significant partners, such as Great Britain, Germany, Japan, and the Gates Foundation, have invested for decades in WHO’s emergency preparedness, response capacity, and expertise.

U.S. Support to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

  • UNICEF was one of the first organizations to provide aid to the Chinese people during the COVID-19 pandemic. On January 29, for instance, UNICEF delivered 6 metric tons of respiratory masks and protective suits for health workers to Shanghai, for distribution in Wuhan.
  • This effort would not have been possible without U.S. support. In 2019, the U.S. contributed more than $700 million to UNICEF, compared to China’s $16 million for UNICEF programs.
  • UNICEF is engaged in emergency actions in dozens of countries across the globe to provide critical medical supplies, expand water, sanitation and hygiene services, and educate about means of preventing the spread of the virus.
  • The United States continues to work vigorously with UNICEF to promote the health and well-being of children around the world.

U.S. Support to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR)

  • Refugee populations are uniquely vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic, and U.S. support to UNHCR is unmatched.
  • In 2019, the United States contributed nearly $1.7 billion to UNHCR, making it clear that we care about human suffering no matter where it occurs. China contributed $1.9 million.

U.S. Support to the World Food Program (WFP)

  • The World Food Program, through its Humanitarian Response Department, has sent more than 85 shipments to 74 countries to assist in COVID-19 responses, including 1.4 million units of personal protection equipment such as health kits.
  • In 2019, the United States provided 42% of WFP’s $8 billion in resources, making the U.S. the largest contributor, and four times the next largest member state donation. The PRC provided just $30 million.
  • Even in the midst of the pandemic, WFP maintains its goal to reach 86 million food insecure people this year – thanks to American funding and food grown by American farmers.