The United States could pass on around $ 400 million to other aid groups it would have paid to the World Health Organization this year, senior officials from the Trump administration said Wednesday after President Donald Trump funded the UN agency to deal with it the corona virus pandemic had ended.
Washington has already paid the Geneva-based WHO around 58 million US dollars this year, half of the amounts to be paid in 2020 – a so-called contribution.
"We are stopping this second installment," said a senior Trump administration official. "We can easily give this money to the Red Cross" or other similar organizations.
The United States provides the WHO with hundreds of millions of dollars a year in voluntary funds related to programs such as polio eradication, vaccine-preventable diseases, HIV and hepatitis, tuberculosis, and maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health.
It was not immediately clear how much voluntary funding the United States had already provided for WHO programs in 2020.
"We can find another partner who is not WHO. This money is spent with other partners," said a second senior Trump administration official.
Trump announced Tuesday that US funding would be suspended while Washington was reviewing WHO's role in "serious mismanagement and cover-up of the spread of the coronavirus," which is expected to take 60 to 90 days.
The move resulted in a widespread conviction because the reported global coronavirus infections exceeded the 2 million mark. WHO chief, Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said he regretted Trump's decision and said it was now time for the world to join forces to fight the virus.
Trump accused the WHO on Tuesday of promoting China's "disinformation" about the virus, saying that this had probably resulted in a larger outbreak than would otherwise have been the case.
Trump's decision was made amid criticism of his government's response to the worst epidemic in a century, from both some of his Republicans and Democrats. Just this week, some Republican governors pushed back Trump's claim that he had "total authority" to instruct states to reopen shops that were closed to stop the virus from spreading.
Senior government officials said Congress could not stop them from redirecting WHO funds.
Some Democrats disagreed and promised that they would try to include WHO funding in the next Coronavirus Relief Act.
"This decision is dangerous, illegal, and will be challenged quickly," said Nancy Pelosi, spokeswoman for the House of Democrats.
Republicans in Congress who rarely violate White House policies quickly supported Trump's decision.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a vocal Trump supporter who leads the Senate subcommittee that oversees foreign aid, described the WHO as "incompetent" and called for new leadership. "This is a critical time for global public health, and we cannot afford China apologists to lead the WHO," Graham said.
Two sources that track US funding for international organizations said Trump's action was serious. "This is not an idle threat. It has real implications," said one.
According to the sources, the US agency for international development last week made a voluntary payment of $ 43 million to WHO for polio monitoring, which was now blocked.
WHO is a United Nations specialized agency – an independent international organization that works with the United Nations. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday that it was "not the time" to cut resources for the panel.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)