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European Union Mobilises 378 Million USD for Help ASEAN in Covid-19 Fight
POLITICS & DIPLOMACY Beyond

European Union Mobilises 378 Million USD for Help ASEAN in Covid-19 Fight

As part of its plan to support partner countries around the globe, the European Union (EU) is mobilising €350 million to fight against the spread of the coronavirus and mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the ASEAN region.

The EU will support actions at country and regional level to address the immediate health crisis, strengthen health systems, as well as alleviate the economic and social consequences.

"By mobilising €350 million in support of ASEAN countries, the EU is demonstrating its friendship with the people of the region," he added in a statement.

As reported by The Jakarta Post, for Indonesia -- the country with the highest death toll from COVID-19 in Southeast Asia -- the EU has granted €6 million to NGOs working on public health and hygiene measures, psycho-social counseling for vulnerable groups, distribution of health kits to vulnerable communities and assistance to community health workers.

Meanwhile, the money will be allocated to garment workers laid off because of Covid-19 in Myanmar, while the focus in Malaysia will be on vulnerable groups and access to food and clean water.

EU Ambassador to ASEAN Igor Driesmans said, as quoted by Thailand Business Review: “In difficult times, ASEAN can count on the European Union. The EU and ASEAN are regional organisations bound by 42 years of solidarity and partnership."

A poster and media campaign in the Thai and Yawi languages will be initiated in Thailand to help combat the spread of the virus in rural communities, medical equipment has been earmarked for Laos.

The EU also said enhancing social protection support to vulnerable groups including the unemployed in Cambodia was a priority as well as boosting investment programs in rural and urban areas to create jobs and livelihood opportunities.

An Indonesian medical team conducts drive-through swab tests for Covid-19 in Tangerang on April 6. Image: AFP
An Indonesian medical team conducts drive-through swab tests for Covid-19 in Tangerang on April 6. Image: AFP

In the meantime, the EU has adjusted some of its existing cooperation programmes to better focus on and respond to the pandemic.

The regional block had also channeled some €48.5 million to fund 18 research projects on COVID-19, particularly related to protective equipment,  to improve modeling of the spread of the virus, rapid diagnostics techniques as well as treatments and vaccines.

"Scientific organizations in ASEAN member states are invited to express their interest to cooperate with the newly launched projects. Priority will be given to activities related to modeling and high performance computing, as well as infrastructure platforms and projects," the EU announced in a written statement on April 16.

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