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SG/SM/20033
3 April 2020

Secretary-General Urges Countries to Designate Humanitarian Workers ‘Essential’, Fast-Track Their Passage, amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres:

The Secretary-General remains deeply concerned that the coronavirus continues to spread at an alarming rate, including into countries where millions of people cannot easily access clean water, food, health care and shelter.  Given the potentially devastating impact on some of the world’s most vulnerable countries, the Secretary-General stresses the need for a concerted, coordinated global response that encompasses communities such as refugees, migrants, stateless people, those who are internally displaced and others who may be on the margins.

The Secretary-General urges national authorities to work closely with United Nations Resident Coordinators and Humanitarian Coordinators to enable the provision of humanitarian assistance by the United Nations and by national and international non-governmental organizations.  This requires fast-tracking the passage of health and aid workers at borders and in country, ensuring they are protected and promoting respect for their work.  Just as health workers are considered critical personnel around the world, so should humanitarian workers be designated as essential, given their direct and indispensable role in delivering life-saving assistance.  The United Nations will continue to support national authorities in these efforts.

The Secretary-General stresses the need to aid those least able to protect themselves.  This is a matter of basic human solidarity and the only way we will overcome the pandemic.

For information media. Not an official record.