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India commits $10 million to SAARC nations emergency fund

Christian Fernsby |
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday committed 10 million U.S. dollars to a COVID-19 Emergency Fund for the SAARC nations to fight an emerging coronavirus outbreak in South Asia.

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"I propose, we create a COVID-19 Emergency Fund. This could be based on voluntary contributions from all of us," Modi said while participating in the discussion on COVID-19 through video conferencing among the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) leaders.

So far, around 150 COVID-19 cases have been reported from the SAARC nations, out of which 107 are in India.

In his opening remarks, Modi said the situation related to COVID-19 was "unpredictable" and there was a need to stay vigilant and calm, and fight the outbreak together.

India also urged the SAARC leaders to identify Nodal Officers on COVID-19 in their respective countries who could hold a similar discussion over video-conferencing in one week from now.

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, Maldives President Ibrahim Solih, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Nepal Prime Minister Sharma Oli and Special Assistant to Pakistan Prime Minister Zafar Mirza participated in the discussion through video-conferencing.

Expressing concern on COVID-19's impact on Maldives' economy, President Solih said that if the trend continued his island nation would face a drop of 35 percent in tourists which would have a "ripple effect" on the overall economy.

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