- Australia announced the aid, a week after China vaccines to countries in South Asia
- This follows India stopping its ‘Vaccine Maitri’ programme under which it had supplied covid-19 inoculations to many countries across the world including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal
on Friday announced that it was extending Australian $17.5 million ($13.5 million) to Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka to help the countries fight increasing covid-19 infections.
“Australia is partnering with Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka in their response to increasing COVID-19 cases. We will provide $17.5m in funding for emergency relief with support to be delivered by trusted on the-ground partners. @dfat@ZedSeselja,” Australian foreign minister Marie Payne said in a Twitter post.
A statement put out by the Australian government said that the money would be channeled through “trusted on-the-ground partners.”
“We will respond directly to the identified needs of our partners through the procurement of critical supplies, including oxygen and ventilators. Australia will also support frontline health workers and help improve contact tracing,” the statement said.
The announcement of Australian aid comes weeks after China’s foreign minister Wang Yi offered Chinese vaccines to countries in South Asia to ensure “a more diversified and stable” regional supply. This followed India stopping its “Vaccine Maitri” programme under which it had supplied covid-19 inoculations to many countries across the world including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The three countries had requested more vaccines for a second shot for their people but India had to curtail its Vaccine Maitri programme given the needs at home after a crippling second wave of infections pushed up daily infections and deaths to record highs.
China’s foreign minister Wang had in April held a virtual dialogue with his counterparts from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. India, Bhutan and the Maldives were not present at the meet.
n March, India, US, Japan and Australia had held the first meeting of leaders of Quad countries during which it was decided that India would manufacture one billion doses of vaccines in an effort funded by Japan and the US for countries in Southeast Asia. Australia would be in charge of the distribution, it was then decided.
It was unclear whether Australia’s aid to Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka was part of a Quad initiative.
The Australian government statement made no mention of the Quad which is seen as a grouping of countries supporting the rule of law and freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific region. The coming together of the Quad countries has rattled China which sees the grouping as ranged against Beijing.
“In Bangladesh, Australia will provide an additional $5 million to partners, including the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society for the purchase of essential supplies, including oxygen and related equipment. This is in addition to $5.7 million provided through BRAC, World Food Programme (WFP), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), including for equipment and training for health systems strengthening,” the Australian statement said.
“In Nepal, we will provide $7 million for the purchase of essential equipment, through the UN and existing NGO partners. Australia is already providing medical equipment to hospitals in the most severely affected areas bordering India, as well as PPE, covid-19 testing kits and related training for health workers,” it said.
“In Sri Lanka, we will provide an additional $5.5 million to the UN SDG Fund for critical supplies and health systems support to the Ministry of Health. Australia has already provided over $6.2 million in COVID-19 related support to Sri Lanka in 2020-21. Earlier this week, Australia delivered oxygen and related supplies through UNICEF, including 291 oxygen cylinders and 342 oxygen regulators,” it said.
Source: Mint, Photo I stock