Washington, April 15 (IANS) United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday said that now was "not the time" to cut off funds to the World Health Organization (WHO) in response to the United States' decision to suspend funding to the agency.
"Once we have finally turned the page on this epidemic, there must be a time to look back fully to understand how such a disease emerged and spread its devastation so quickly across the globe, and how all those involved reacted to the crisis," Guterres said in a statement.
"But now is not that time," he added. "It also not the time to reduce the resources for the operations of the World Health Organization or any other humanitarian organization in the fight against the virus."
"It is my belief that the World Health Organization must be supported, as it is absolutely critical to the world's efforts to win the war against COVID-19," the UN chief said.
Guterres' remarks came after US President Donald Trump decided earlier in the day to suspend his government's funding to the WHO. The US, until now, had been the biggest donor to the agency, Efe news reported.
"Today I'm instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization's role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus," Trump announced during a press conference at the White House.
Trump justified his decision by using the WHO's opposition to the closure of borders to combat the spread of the virus. He also blamed the organization for not having acted sooner and for having not only trusted, but also having "praised" the Chinese government.
"As the organization's leading sponsor, the United States has a duty to insist on full accountability," Trump said, adding that Washington contributes $400-500 million annually, while China contributes about $40 million.
On April 8, Trump threatened to suspend US funding to the WHO, accusing it of having a "bias" toward China and of being "wrong" about COVID-19, although he acknowledged that doing so in the midst of a pandemic was perhaps not the most appropriate thing.
His decision to carry out his threat just a week later is reminiscent of his withdrawal from UNESCO, the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the nuclear pact with Iran.