Even as the world scrambles to respond to the new coronavirus pandemic, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has once again emerged as the global leader in rushing humanitarian aid and critical medical supplies during unprecedented crisis — thereby safeguarding millions of front-line health care workers and people around the globe.
From China, Italy, and the UK to Ukraine, Croatia, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria several other nations, the list of countries and regions receiving UAE’s generous aid during the pandemic is long and growing, bearing testimony to why the UAE has consistently topped the global rankings of being the largest donor of aid and humanitarian assistance for the past several years.
With thanks from the Syrian president, the UAE has called on the UN to provide assistance in ensuring a ceasefire in Syria, to aid efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Anwar GARGASH, said in a tweet that he has discussed with the UN Special Envoy, Geir PEDERSEN, the necessity for implementing a ceasefire in Syria, as well as finding means to help it amid the coronavirus crisis.
Dr. GARGASH also praised the UN for its appreciation of the aid provided by Sheikh Mohamed bin ZAYED to Syria, stressing the UAE’s support for the organization in its vital missions.
On March 27, 2020, the UAE offered to help Syria battle the coronavirus pandemic during a phone call between Sheikh Mohamed bin ZAYED, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Syrian President Bashar Al-ASSAD to discuss the developments and repercussions of the spread of the coronavirus in the region and the world and the precautionary measures taken in both countries to address the crisis.
During the call, bin ZAYED stressed the UAE’s support for Syria and its people in these exceptional circumstances and the possibility of helping them to overcome this situation, noting that, “the brotherly Arab Syria will not remain alone in these delicate and critical circumstances.”
Also, Sheikh Mohamed bin ZAYED told the Syrian President their countries needed to “place humanitarian solidarity over political issues during this common challenge we are all facing,” said the report by the UAE state news agency Wam.
For his part, ASSAD welcomed the initiative of bin ZAYED, appreciating the stance of the United Arab Emirates in light of the current situation and amid this emerging challenge, and further welcomed cooperation during this period.
The nature and size of the UAE’s response have been as varied as the need of countries and the evolving situation: from setting up the Emirates Humanitarian City to repatriate scores of stranded people from Wuhan and undertaking the Home of Humanity initiative to sending tonnes of medical masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPEs) to health workers in multiple countries to set up the NHS Nightingale field hospital in the UK.
In the process, the UAE has provided nearly 200 tonnes of aid directly supporting more than 150,000 medical professionals around the world, and thereby helping millions of others with the availability of preventive medical gear.
The UAE’s outreach is despite a cooling of relations with Syria since an uprising against President al-ASSAD’s rule sparked a civil war that is now in its 10th year. The UAE, which backed opposition groups earlier in the conflict, reopened its Damascus embassy in December 2018 as Al-Assad’s government reasserted control over most of the country.
Syria has reported only several cases of the novel coronavirus infection, far fewer than most countries in the region, but there are fears that the large number of displaced civilians living in crowded camps and the government’s limited healthcare resources could lead to a rapid spread of Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus.
Dr. Anwar GARGASH said the coronavirus pandemic required “unprecedented steps” and that Sheikh Mohamed’s call to the Syrian President was made in this context.
At the end of March, Syria banned travel between cities and governorates as part of tightening measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, state-run Ikhbariya TV reported, citing the interior minister.
The travel restriction is on top of a curfew announced from 6 pm to 6 am and after the country halted flights and ordered most businesses to close.
Humanitarian agencies say they are particularly concerned about the virus spreading in the north-west, the last region in which opposition groups hold significant territory. About one million people have been displaced by government offensive launched in December 2019, with most living in tightly packed camps near the Turkish border with severely limited access to healthcare.
Syria and seven other countries under unilateral sanctions, mainly from the United States and European Union, has urged UN Secretary-General Antonio GUTERRES to request the immediate and complete lifting of those measures to enable them to respond to the pandemic.
In a joint letter obtained by The Associated Press, the ambassadors from China, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, Syria, and Venezuela urged the UN chief to “reject the politicization of such a pandemic”.
The ambassadors, who said they were under instructions from their foreign ministers, did not name any countries responsible for what they called “illegal, coercive measures of economic pressure”. But the US has imposed sanctions on every one of the nations except China.
This article was edited using the data from the Syrian Observer, Thenational.ae, Gulfnews. Responsibility for the accurate information set out in this article lies entirely to the original sources.
Source of the photo: Khaleejtimes.com.