Kabul, 11 April 2020
Coronavirus: EU responds globally and in Afghanistan to fight the pandemic
The European Union has set out plans for a robust and targeted response to support partner countries’ efforts in tackling the coronavirus pandemic, which amounts to EUR 20 billion from existing European external action resources and actions of the Member States. The EU’s collective action will address the immediate health crisis and resulting humanitarian needs, strengthening partner countries’ health, water and sanitation systems and their research and preparedness capacities to deal with the pandemic, as well as mitigating the socio-economic impact.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, commented: “The virus knows no borders. This global challenge needs strong international cooperation. The European Union is working tirelessly to fight the pandemic. We all know that only together we can stop the worldwide spread of the coronavirus.”
The EU recognises that Afghanistan may be severely affected by the pandemic. Afghanistan’s public health system is weakened by years of conflict, has to cope with limited resources, and is not accessible throughout the country. The EU response, amounting to EUR 117 million, is directed to tackling the pandemic and addressing its health and socio-economic impacts. This includes EUR 50 million in additional funding to strengthen Afghanistan’s health system. This will help making human and material resources, such as testing and treatment equipment, available for a specific response to the COVID-19 crisis while allowing for the continuation of ongoing key basic services such as maternal and child care. Health awareness raising and surveillance actions will also be supported across the country. Specific attention will be given to returnees from Iran and Pakistan and internally displaced persons, and their host communities, with activities including awareness raising, sanitation and hygiene measures, and access to health services and income opportunities. This is complemented by support to Afghans on the move in Iran and Pakistan.
In the words of EU Ambassador to Afghanistan H.E. Pierre Mayaudon: “Today EU gives to its engagement in Afghanistan a new, concrete and robust dimension by supporting all efforts aimed at mitigating the effects of the Coronavirus. Fighting the disease should be the only fight in Afghanistan. Our assistance comes with the strong plea to political leaders to urgently reach an agreement and to all parties to the armed conflict to observe an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.”