Why is Donald Trump halting funding to the WHO?

US president says UN body has ‘failed in its basic duty’ over the coronavirus

(Image credit: (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images))

Donald Trump says he has instructed his administration to halt funding to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The US president, who is under fire at home over his handling of the outbreak, said the WHO had “failed in its basic duty” in its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Trump, who has previously accused the WHO of being biased towards China, accused the UN body of mismanaging and covering up the spread of the virus and said it must be held accountable.

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The Guardian says Trump’s move is “confirmation – if any were needed – that he is in search of scapegoats for his administration’s much delayed and chaotic response to the crisis”.

Meanwhile, the usually pro-Trump news outlet Fox News argues that the US president is “right” to halt funding to the WHO, a move that “brings hope” to the US.

Announcing his move at a news conference at the White House, Trump said: “I am directing my administration to halt funding while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization's role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.

“Had the WHO done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China's lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained at its source with very little death,” he added.

The US is the WHO's biggest single funder, providing $400m (£316m) last year - just under 15% of its total budget. “With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have deep concerns whether America's generosity has been put to the best use possible,” said Trump.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said now was “not the time” to be cutting resources for the WHO but CNN points out that Trump’s decision “follows a pattern of scepticism of world organizations that began well before the coronavirus pandemic” and has seen him criticise the United Nations and withdraw from global climate agreements.

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