The Asian Age

Saarc fund being used, says MEA


The Indian government said that $1 million from the $10 million Covid Emergency Fund announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last Sunday has already been used. The fund was announced during a video conference with SAARC leaders.

The external affairs ministry said that India has got requests for masks, shoe covers, disinfecta­nts, etc from a few countries and supplies to Bhutan and Maldives have already been dispatched. Foreign Ssecretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla is likely to hold a video conference with his counterpar­ts in Saarc countries sometime soon on this issue to follow up the issues discussed between SAARC leaders.

During the video conference, Prime Minister Modi had suggested setting up an Covid-19 Emergency Fund based on voluntary contributi­ons from all Saarc states. PM had offered an initial sum of $10 million from India’s side.

“A crisis of this magnitude does not recognise borders. It requires a coordinate­d response on regional and global level. It was in this spirit that the PM took the initiative of getting all the Saarc countries to cooperate closely to combat the pandemic. You are aware that the initiative has been appreciate­d by several countries, including the Saarc member states. We are moving very fast on these announceme­nts. On the Emergency Fund, this is already up and running. We have got many requests from other Saarc countries for assistance in the form of masks, gloves, disinfecta­nts and other items. The quantum of requests received is already above $1 million. Other requests are under various stages of process,” external affairs ministry spokespers­on Raveesh Kumar said.

Mr Kumar added that on other proposals too work is in progress. For instance, on the Rapid Response Task Force that India is creating and which Mr Modi had offered to place at the disposal of Saarc members, MEA said that informal request was received from Maldives and Nepal and this is being followed up.

Similarly, on the plan to provide online training to health personnel of Saarc member States, and to create a common research platform to coordinate research on controllin­g epidemic diseases within the South Asian region and to discuss health best practices, a video conference is scheduled for March 26 among the health profession­als.

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