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SAARC Fund for COVID-19 to be utilized for Member States

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Kathmandu,April15: The SAARC member states that contributed to the COVID-19 Emergency Fund made a plan to mobilize the supply of medicines, medical equipment and other logistics available in their respective countries to any of the member states makes request for medical supplies.

A Video- conference of SAARC leaders was held on March 16 where Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had proposed to set up the SAARC Emergency Fund for COVID-19, while pledging $10 million to the Fund. All other member states of the regional bloc, except Pakistan, have announced their pledges for the fund, which now cumulatively stands at $18.8 million.

Sri Lanka has pledged to contribute $5 million, Bangladesh has contributed $1.5 million to the fund. Nepal and Afghanistan have each contributed $1million and Maldives and Bhutan have provided $ 0.2 million and $0.1 million, respectively, to the Fund.

Pakistan has chosen not to deposit an amount in the COVID-19 Emergency Fund amid differences whether the fund should be administered by the SAARC Secretary General.

Mr. Bharat Raj Poudyal, Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the member states have reached an understanding to utilize the fund to extend support to other member states in need to fight against the COVID-19. Officials at MoFA said India has already started providing various medical supplies to various SAARC member states including Nepal, the Maldives, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka by utilizing the fund it deposited earlier in the COVID-19 Emergency Fund.

The cases of COVID-19 in South Asia are on the rise despite the fact that the countries have already enforced nationwide lockdowns to contain the spread of the fatal virus. While Nepal so far has a total 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19, India has so far recorded a total 8, 356 positive cases and 273 deaths as a result of this virus. Other SAARC member states have also started witnessing a rise in the cases of COVID-19.

Source: Republica