New York, NY, April 23, 2020 — Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced a $10 million contribution to support the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) efforts to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on vulnerable populations across the globe, and for additional work that will be needed to protect these peoples. The support comes at a time when the world is experiencing the greatest number of people fleeing violence and persecution since World War II. With many of these displaced millions already suffering from ill health and living in poverty, they are at extreme risk of contracting the coronavirus. COVID-19 is in the early stages of spreading to less developed and fragile countries, which means there is still time to mount a coordinated response that can ease suffering today and guard against dangerous secondary impacts tomorrow.
The flexible funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies will allow the IRC to quickly pivot its coronavirus response to where it is needed most, ensuring a quick and effective delivery of aid in the more than 40 countries and 20 U.S. cities where the IRC is on the frontlines of trying to diminish and respond to the COVID-19 threat. The funding will also allow the IRC to address other critical work and builds on the long-term partnership between the two organizations, which has enabled life-changing impact for thousands of people displaced by conflict and persecution while catalyzing solutions that benefit the humanitarian response sector.
“The International Rescue Committee rushes to the aid of people uprooted from their homes by conflict and crisis, and in the battle against this coronavirus, its work has taken on new urgency,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term mayor of New York City. “Bloomberg Philanthropies has been glad to support the IRC for over two decades. Now our partnership will accelerate its front-line response to the pandemic in over 40 countries and continue to help build a healthier and safer world for all of us.”
The vast majority of refugees and displaced populations already have pre-existing vulnerabilities, with many living in confined spaces and places with weakened health systems that are severely underprepared to respond to a pandemic. A recent IRC report revealed a severe shortage of critical equipment like ventilators and ICU beds amongst fragile and conflict-affected countries. For example, just half of South Sudan’s health facilities are functioning, and there are only four ventilators for the whole country. Further, this pandemic will have a devastating impact on the economic and security situations in many places that are already in need of humanitarian assistance. The IRC teams are working to spread awareness, improve water and sanitation services, and strengthen the capacity of health care systems to detect, respond to, and prevent further transmission of the virus.
“At a time when refugees and displaced populations are facing a double emergency, this generous gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies will allow the IRC to continue our front-line response if and when the disease strikes already vulnerable communities impacted by crisis and displacement,” said David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee. “This virus moves fast, ignores borders and impacts everyone so the need for long-term and flexible funding in responding to it is pressing and we would like to thank Bloomberg Philanthropies for their continued partnership with the IRC."
Mike Bloomberg’s new support for this partnership is part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies COVID-19 Response Initiatives which were launched in March to give public health professionals and local leaders around the world the tools to protect themselves and the public, and help mitigate the kind of economic and social damage that could make this crisis even more debilitating for families and communities.
The Bloomberg Philanthropies COVID-19 Global Response Initiative supports immediate action to prevent or slow the spread of COVID-19 in vulnerable low-and middle-income countries. With Resolve to Save Lives, Vital Strategies, and the World Health Organization, the $40 million initiative has a strong focus on African nations while also supporting additional governments around the world. Under the plan, Bloomberg Philanthropies contributed $8 million to the World Health Organization COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund to provide healthcare workers globally with protective equipment and the necessary information and training to detect and treat affected patients. The funding will also assist efforts to track and study the spread of the virus, accelerate the development of treatments, vaccines, and tests, and produce guidance on preventative measures for the general public.
The COVID-19 Local Response Initiative helps U.S. cities and states combat the devastating impact of coronavirus on the wellbeing of residents and local economies. Working with the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the network provides mayors with the most up-to-date information on the virus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and crisis management support from experts across Harvard University. Bloomberg Philanthropies has also made significant investments in New York and London by donating masks to health care workers and supporting funds – including the London Community Response Fund and the NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund – established to award grants and loans to critical nonprofits to help them continue operations in this difficult period. Additionally, Mike Bloomberg gave $6 million to World Central Kitchen to provide up to 1 million fresh daily meals for New York City public hospital healthcare workers, and has committed $10.5 million, along with organizational support and technical assistance, to a partnership with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that will build a nation-leading COVID-19 contact tracing program. It will be a regional effort with New Jersey and Connecticut.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and over 20 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in more than 570 cities and over 160 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2019, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $3.3 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.