EU urges Trump to reconsider decision to end US relationship with WHO
The European Union (EU) has urged President Donald Trump to rethink his decision to terminate the US relationship with the World Health Organization (WHo) as spiking infection rates in India and elsewhere reinforced that the Coronavirus pandemic is far from contained.
Trump on Friday charged that the WHO failed to respond adequately to the Coronavirus pandemic and accused the U.N. agency of being under China’s “total control.”
The US is the largest source of financial support for the WHO, and its exit is expected to significantly weaken the organization. Trump said the US would be “redirecting” the money to “other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs,” without providing specifics.
The head of the EU’s executive arm urged Trump to reconsider. “The WHO needs to continue being able to lead the international response to pandemics, current and future,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. “For this, the participation and support of all is required and very much needed.”
The WHO wouldn’t comment on the announcement but South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize called it an “unfortunate” turn of events.
“Certainly, when faced with a serious pandemic, you want all nations in the world to be particularly focused … on one common enemy,” he told reporters.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called Trump’s decision the “wrong signal at the wrong time.” He said Berlin would have “intensive discussions” with Washington to try to convince the U.S. government to reconsider.
“The number of people infected worldwide is increasing and the crisis is spreading,” Maas told Germany’s Funke media group. “We can’t tear down the dike in the middle of the flood and build a new one.”
The US has been worst hit by the outbreak, with more than 1.7 million cases and almost 103,000 deaths.
Cities and states are under increasing pressure to reopen, however. The latest figures from the U.S. Labor Department brought to 41 million the running total of Americans who have filed for unemployment since shutdowns took hold in mid-March.
But there have been worrying signs that as restrictions are eased, some people are not adhering to social distancing guidelines.