GENEVA, April 15. /TASS/. The United States’ blame-shifting statements concerning the World Health Organization (WHO) are politically motivated and ungrounded, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Geneva Office and other Geneva-based international organizations Gennady Gatilov said on Wednesday, commenting on the US decision to suspend funding to that organization.
"Such actions do serious harm to the international organization, which has been playing the leading coordinating role in combating the pandemic," he said. "We are convinced that the WHO has acted within its mandate at all the phases of the outbreak, in strict compliance with the policies of its member nations resting on their research data. It is wrong to accuse the WHO that some countries did not want to heed its warnings and recommendations."
According to the Russian diplomat, Washington’s claims "look especially hypocritical" because the Americans "have a big say in the work" of this organization. Being a biggest WHO donor, the United States is widely represented in all of its structures, including top ones, as well as in expert committees, including its emergency committee, he noted.
"So, it is simply absurd to say that the WHO was concealing something from the US," he said, adding that the US accusatory statements "are politically motivated and ungrounded."
Gatilov noted that at the current stage it is difficult to assess the harm the United States’ decision could do to the WHO’s work and to international anti-coronavirus efforts. He recalled that the United States’ contribution to the WHO budget is around 120 million US dollars, or 22%, with US funds and non-government organizations being the WHO’s biggest donors. Altogether, the United States is the biggest debtor, with its debt to the WHO nearing 200 million US dollars.
"Washington’s latest statements prompt one sad conclusion: the United States’ withdrawal from UNESCO, the United Nations Human Rights Council, its refusal to fund United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and now the WHO look like elements of a deliberate policy towards breaking down the system of international organizations, especially those it doesn’t like," the Russian diplomat stressed.
He recalled that "everyone knows what and when the WHO has been doing since the crisis outbreak." Thus, the WHO has been organizing news conferences on the coronavirus pandemic three times a week since February. Once a week, it organizes online briefings for its member nations and regularly updates its recommendations on various aspects of anti-pandemic efforts. "So, all accusations of its passivity, non-transparency or malicious intents are absolutely groundless," Gatilov said.
Earlier, US President Donald Trump told a news briefing that Washington was pressing for a reform of the World Health Organization. He declared that the United States was suspending its WHO membership dues and accused the organization of wrong judgements and recommendations, which resulted in a 20-fold increase in COVID-19 cases worldwide.
According to the latest statistics, over 2,000,000 people have been infected worldwide and more than 126,800 deaths have been reported.
To date, a total of 24,490 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Russia, with 1,986 patients having recovered from the virus. Russia’s latest data indicates 198 fatalities nationwide. Earlier, the Russian government set up an Internet hotline to keep the public updated on the coronavirus situation.