The Jakarta Post
The European Union has announced that it is mobilizing €350 million (US$ 378 million) to assist Southeast Asian countries in the battle against COVID-19.
The funds will be allocated for, among others, addressing the health crisis, strengthening healthcare systems and alleviating economic and social impacts from the pandemic.
“In difficult times, ASEAN can count on the European Union. The EU and ASEAN are regional organizations bound by 42 years of solidarity and partnership," EU Ambassador to ASEAN Igor Driesmans said in a statement.
"By mobilizing €350 million in support of ASEAN countries, the EU is demonstrating its friendship with the people of the region," he added.
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.
The EU announced on April 4 that it would commit more than €20 billion to support partner countries in the fight against COVID-19 under a program called Team Europe.
It will distribute the funds to vulnerable countries in Africa, the western Balkans, eastern partner countries, the Middle East and North Africa, parts of Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean.
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.
The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economy and healthcare systems of nations around the world since it spread rapidly from Wuhan city in China to more than 200 countries and territories in roughly four months since early January.
As of Tuesday, the tally of COVID-19 infections has topped 3 million cases globally, with more than 211,000 fatalities across the globe, Bloomberg reported.
Driesmans further asserted the importance of global collaboration to address crisis caused by the contagious respiratory illness.
"We can only overcome the coronavirus pandemic through international cooperation, solidarity and coordination,” he said.