Despite Crisis at Home, US Provides Foreign Coronavirus Aid


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STATE DEPARTMENT - As the COVID-19 outbreak grows in the United States, officials say they are mobilizing unprecedented resources to help Americans at home, while also continuing to provide health and humanitarian assistance to other countries struggling with the pandemic.

But with continuing reports of shortages of personal protective equipment in some U.S. hospitals, Washington's foreign coronavirus assistance has come under increasing public scrutiny.

In recent weeks, scores of U.S. missions abroad have detailed hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid to help countries fight the pandemic at home. U.S. support is given both directly to governments and civil institutions, and also flows to U.N.-agencies which provide critical support for vulnerable populations.

The department recently published an itemized list of aid to 64 of the most at-risk countries to help detail what the United States has been doing.

Here is a partial list of the publicly announced U.S. coronavirus aid.

March 31, 2020: The State Department reported the U.S. has provided approximately $18.3 million in emergency health and humanitarian assistance to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to fight the coronavirus.

This includes "preparing laboratories for large-scale testing for the coronavirus; infection prevention and control" as well as "training and equipping rapid-responders in investigation and contact-tracing."

March 26, 2020: The U.S. pledges additional foreign aid to battle COVID-19. An initial payment of nearly $274 million was provided in emergency health and humanitarian assistance to 64 at-risk countries, in addition to funding that has been provided to multilateral organizations, including the World Health Organization.

The $274 million in foreign aid includes $100 million that was announced in early February, $110 million in new international disaster assistance, and $64 million in humanitarian assistance for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to assist in its pandemic response efforts for some of the world's most vulnerable populations.

A State Department fact sheet highlights U.S. support to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), which in January became one of the first organizations to provide aid to the Chinese people during the COVID-19 pandemic. UNICEF reported delivering six metric tons of respiratory masks and protective suits for health workers in Wuhan.

In 2019, the U.S. contributed more than $700 million to UNICEF.

February 28, 2020: The State Department said the U.S. is prepared to assist the Iranian people to battle the spread of the coronavirus, an offer conveyed to Iran through the Government of Switzerland. Washington says certain donations to Iran intended to relieve human suffering, including the donation of medicine, are exempt from U.S. sanctions.

February 27, 2020: The U.S. and Swiss governments finalized the terms of the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA), which further facilitates the flow of humanitarian goods to the Iranian people while "safeguarding against the Iranian regime's diversion of humanitarian trade for malign purposes."

The United States maintains broad exceptions and authorizations to its sanctions for the commercial export of food, medicine, medical devices, and agricultural products to Iran.

February 15, 2020: The State Department reported that a joint effort of U.S. government, private organizations and companies has facilitated the delivery of 17.8 tons of personal protection equipment and medical supplies to China, amid the coronavirus outbreak.

"A number of organizations, companies, and private entities donated life-saving aid and supplies. Project HOPE received and distributed 101 pallets of personal protection equipment and medical supplies provided by Samaritan's Purse, Boeing, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Intermountain Healthcare," said the State Department.