SAARC leaders hold extraordinary video conference on Covid-19

SAARC leaders hold extraordinary video conference on Covid-19

President Ashraf Ghani joined SAARC leaders today evening to discuss measures and efforts to contain the covid-19 as well as approaches to prevent its further spread, via a videoconference initiated by Prime Minister Modi of India.

Prime Minister Modi delivered the opening remarks in the conference and extended congratulation to President Ghani on securing a second term in office. He said the Covid-19 is a pandemic disease in the region and stressed preventive measures and precautions need to be in full swing, calling for collective and sincere efforts by the SAARC members to contain the disease.

The Indian Prime Minister vowed his country is prepared to proceed and adopt measures to provide health facilities and urge the SAARC member countries to collaborate on sharing experiences and practices together to enable them to deal with the pandemic disease.

President Ashraf Ghani said, “We are into unknown territory, and our vulnerability comes from our openness.” He underlined that the contagion impacts will particularly be on the poor and vulnerable.

The president added that the SAARC members need to jointly work and develop clear mechanisms to minimize the negative impacts of the disease on the societies.

The president offered his proposals namely modeling of diffusion impacts and scenarios for management, creating common framework for telemedicine, approaches to allow transactions between countries when borders are closed, and sharing experiences and preventive practices.

President Ghani said, “Closing of borders while essential will result in significant problems regarding availability of medicines, food and basic goods.”

The president underscored the need to extend coordination and coherence among SAARC and SCO to allow exchange of experiences and data for coping with covid-19 virus.

The Prime Minister of India recommended that a ‘Covid-19 Emergency Fund’ be established to enable joint fight against the spread of covid-19 and declared that India will allocate 10 million dollars to the fund.

The SAARC leaders agreed that such videoconference should continue among the health ministers of the member countries as well as economic experts to analyze and evaluate the long-term impact and economic implications in the region.

President Ghani extended gratitude to Prime Minster Modi for the videoconference initiative and said the recent number of corona cases in Afghanistan is 16 and no death has been reported yet.

The president said, “Our greatest vulnerability is that we have open border with Iran,” where flow of refugees returning from Iran is a challenge for Afghanistan and the region.

The president highlighted that Afghanistan intends to allocate its share in the Covid-19 Emergency Fund.