Making COVID-19 response more 'international'
Filippo Grandi

Editor's note: So far, COVID-19 has infected more than 200,000 people and caused nearly 10,000 deaths worldwide. With the number rising daily, governments around the world are scrambling to manage the pandemic. Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), shares his view with CGTN on the international response to COVID-19. This is part three of our interview with him. The article reflects the author's opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

CGTN: Besides the resources donated and teams of experts sent to help out other countries, the response measures are mostly state-centric. What else can the international community do to make the coordinated efforts more international?

Grandi: In spite of the global nature of this phenomenon, which we have seen it [that] this is about everybody. It's not about one country or the other, one group or the other. We still see, state by state, responses being put in place. And yet the only way to address this is to do it collectively.

If there is a demonstration that the nation system, the nation's system is not adequate enough to respond to global crisis [then it] is coronavirus. So, our encouragement is really for more dialogue. At least, if global dialogue is difficult, at least [we should have it] on a regional basis; on a region by region basis. So, we continue to promote that together and behind WHO.

And you touched on another important issue. And this is the support that countries like China can provide to countries that are going to be inevitably impacted by the crisis. I have been watching over the weekend the extraordinary images of Chinese experts going to Italy with supplies, with expertise to advise my own country on how to respond. And I do hope that China will continue to exercise this leadership, because it is a form of leadership worldwide, given the hopefully successful response that you have brought to the crisis now. So, we do need also solidarity of the better equipped country, for the less equipped country that are going to be hit by the crisis in the next few weeks and months.

CGTN:  Do you think international organizations should be more empowered in handling international crises?

Grandi: I think that we need to be realistic. As much as it would be good to have a maximum of international cooperation, we know that the system of nations will continue to prevail. We know that, we should be realistic.

What I think is important is that the advice of organizations like WHO and, in refugee matters, UNHCR and other organizations in the UN system, is followed, and that those organizations are resourced and equipped adequately, so that they can provide that advice, which, by the way, in the case of weaker countries, is very often in the form of material support. That's why WHO has put out a very important funding appeal for about 600 million dollars, which I think would be important to be funded. And the UN as a whole [and] the humanitarian agencies are also in the process of seeking resources. These resources are not to make those organizations unnecessarily big. But to make them strong enough to help the weaker states. So, we are really looking at the international system to be made stronger in this respect. We will continue to have a state-based system, but we will continue to need the support of expert organizations like ours to make sure that nobody falls behind.

Interviewer: Huang Jiyuan

Editing and design: Feng Ran, Huang Jiyuan

Graphic design: Jie Qiong

Producer: Wei Wei

Supervisor: Mei Yan

Part one: Challenges and dilemmas in the global response to COVID-19

Part two: Discrimination creates more problems, but solves nothing

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