The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has announced a comprehensive package of 276 million Icelandic króna (ISK) as a first response in the fight against COVID-19 in developing countries. The contribution is split between priority UN organizations, the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and specific projects in bilateral partner countries.
“We worked hard to identify new funding channeled primarily through UN agencies and other multilateral organizations. There is great solidarity, especially amongst the Nordics, towards stepping up our support to developing countries in tackling the pandemic. We must act now. Doing nothing or too little will have devastating consequences in fragile settings.”, says Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development Cooperation.
Iceland gives its full support to the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan and will allocate a total of 70 million ISK to three UN agencies. 30 million ISK will go to WHO, 20 million ISK to UNHCR and 20 million ISK to UNFPA. In addition, 25 million ISK have been allocated towards OCHA’s Country Based Pooled Funds. As always, humanitarian and development assistance from Iceland takes gender equality into account. The same applies to our COVID-19 response.
Iceland will support the UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund with an initial 20 million ISK contribution to support low- and middle-income countries in overcoming the health and development crisis caused by COVID-19.
25 million ISK will be allocated to the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP) with the purpose of powering remote health facilities in Sub-Saharan Africa with solar power in order to build back better with green solutions.
In March, 28 million ISK were provided to IFRC’s Covid-19 Emergency Appeal through a multi-year agreement with the Icelandic Red Cross. Further support of 20 million ISK has been allocated to ICRC directly from the Ministry.
First response in bilateral partner countries includes 66 million ISK allocated for school meal programmes in the Buikwe district in Uganda as well as 15 million ISK to the Buikwe district’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan for hospitals and health facilities. In Malawi, 7 million ISK have been disbursed towards the Mangochi district’s Emergency Response Plan with further contributions in the pipeline.
This initial COVID-19 package is in addition to approximately 540 million ISK of predictable annual funding to UN agencies alone. Iceland is a proud advocate of unearmarked funding as it offers essential flexibility to respond where and when necessary.