Coronavirus | China, Australia, France offer help to India

Pakistan-based charity Edhi Foundation offers 50 ambulances, emergency staff to deal with pandemic

April 24, 2021 01:45 am | Updated April 26, 2021 06:43 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian.

China is in contact with Indian officials and will assist India in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Spokesman of Beijing’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Zhao Lijian said China “firmly” supported the Indian people in the ongoing fight against the deadly pandemic.

“The Chinese government and the Chinese people firmly support the Indian government and people in fighting the pandemic, and are willing to provide support and assistance in accordance with the needs of the Indian side. The Chinese side is maintaining communication with the Indian side on this,” said Mr. Zhao in response to a question. This is the first comment from the Chinese side on the health scenario during the second wave of the COVID-19 which has thrown a tough challenge to India.

Dispute in Ladakh

Health cooperation between the two sides was slowed because of the dispute in the eastern Ladakh which is yet to be fully resolved. India had lifted ban on export of certain items such as the personal protection equipment (PPE) in February 2020 to assist China fight the virus. “China expresses sincere condolences to the recent deterioration of the situation in India. China believes that the Indian people will be able to overcome the pandemic at an early date,” said Mr. Zhao. China’s offer of support is significant as India has been urging the United States to lift restrictions on the export of raw materials necessary for the production of the anti-COVID-19 vaccines in India. The Biden administration has not so far indicated that it will allow resumption of export of relevant raw materials to the Indian vaccine makers.

A message of support was also sent by Marise Payne, Foreign Minister of Australia, who committed to work together with India to defeat the pandemic. “Australia sends solidarity to our friends in India as it tackles this latest COVID-19 outbreak. India’s generosity and leadership in providing vaccines to our region is appreciated,” said Ms. Payne.

President Emmanuel Macron of France also extended his “solidarity” with India and said, “We stand ready to provide our support.”

Charity’s offer

Official expression of support from China, France and Australia came on a day when Pakistan-based charity group, the Abdul Sattar Edhi Foundation, offered help to India to counter the pandemic.

Faisal Edhi, Managing Trustee of the organisation, has extended 50 ambulances and emergency staff to deal with the pandemic that has hit India “exceptionally.”

“Our organisation understands the gravity of the situation, and we wish to lend you our full support, without any inconvenience to you, which is why we will arrange all the necessary supplies that our team needs to assist the people of India. Importantly, we are not requesting any other assistance from you, as we are providing the fuel, food and other necessary amenities that our team will require. Our team consists of emergency medical technicians, office staff, drivers, and supporting staff,” said Mr. Edhi in his letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The ambulance service of the Abdul Sattar Edhi Foundation was started by the late Abdul Sattar Edhi who was considered to be the ‘Mother Teresa of Pakistan’. Edhi was born in Gujarat but left for Karachi during the Partition. Over more than six decades, Edhi provided Pakistan with an exceptional private charity initiative in the form of his team which is spread in all parts of Pakistan, including the violent areas of the Northwest and Balochistan.

Mr. Faisal Edhi proposed that his team is willing to work with local police and administrative authorities of India and expressed his willingness to “deploy” his team wherever the authorities designate.

Geeta issue

The Edhi group had helped India earlier in getting the orphan girl Geeta who was lost in Pakistan but was returned to India in 2015. Geeta had wandered across the border and was given shelter in the Edhi Foundation’s headquarters in Karachi. “We look forward to assisting you in managing the current humanitarian crisis, and hope only to provide our help in whatever way that we can, for the benefit of the people of India,” said Mr. Faisal Edhi in his letter.

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