Government mobilises its missions seeking aid to fight pandemicForeign Ministry has written to all Nepali missions abroad, asking them to find help from the host countries. A diplomat in Delhi says India will resume supply of vaccines to Nepal from June-July.
On Thursday, Head of Asia Pacific Division at the Swiss Foreign Ministry Raphael Nageli responded to a photograph tweeted by Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit about its Covid-19 assistance to India. According to the Swiss humanitarian agency, it has sent 13 tons of medical supplies to India including 600 oxygen concentrators and ventilators.
Commenting on Ambassador Nageli’s tweet, Nepal’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva Mani Prasad Bhattarai sought a similar support for Nepal
“Great work dear Ambassador,” Bhattarai wrote on Twitter in response to Nageli’s tweet. “We expect the same kind of support for Nepal as well. Would appreciate Swiss cooperation in this regard.”
Bhattarai also sought similar support for Nepal from another Swiss official on the microblogging platform. Ignazio Cassis, an official at the Swiss Foreign Ministry had also tweeted about the aid package sent by Switzerland to India and again Ambassador Bhattarai made a similar kind of appeal on Twitter.
“Your Excellency, it’s a wonderful humanitarian work,” Bhattarai replied to Cassis. “Hope Nepal would not be forgotten in providing similar Swiss support.”
These tweets from the Nepali ambassador to Switzerland show how desperately the government is looking for international support and cooperation in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
With Covid-19 infections soaring beyond control in Nepal, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli in his address to the nation last Monday ended his address in English requesting the international community for assistance to fight the pandemic.
After the prime minister’s appeal, the Ministry of Foriegn Affairs has sent a circular to all Nepali missions abroad asking them to seek assistance from the respective host countries, and in some cases country-specific requests have been sent, according to spokesperson Sewa Lamsal.
“The circular aims to seek support and cooperation from the international community while the government is also making Covid-19-related procurements itself on a priority basis,” Lamsal told the Post. “Some of the missions have responded to the circular positively and have been giving us daily updates.”
The Health Ministry has sent a list of medicines including antiviral drugs like Remdesivir among others, intensive care unit beds, oxygen concentrators, oximeters as well as other logistical equipment to the Nepali missions through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
According to a joint secretary at the Health Ministry, Nepali missions have been mobilised for the procurement of essential medical equipment as well as other supplies like oxygen and life saving drugs since there is an acute shortage of such supplies in Nepal.
“These efforts can go hand in hand with continuing efforts for securing vaccines,” he added, requesting anonymity.
Diplomats, meanwhile, say that they are well aware of the urgent need to secure medical supplies and are working to use the ongoing lockdown period effectively.
“We have learnt a big lesson from last year when we did not make good use of the lockdown period to prepare for the second wave. So this time we are working tirelessly to arrange and secure critical medical supplies including medicines and equipment,” said a Nepali diplomat based in Europe requesting anonymity. “We have received the list of needs from the Health Ministry.”
Two Nepali Ambassadors told the Post over the phone on May 4 that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has written to the Nepali embassies in India, China, US, Japan and Europe among others seek international support for the fight against the pandemic, and also find out what kind of support the host countries are likely to provide.
“After failing to arrange adequate resources internally, we had asked our missions to seek international cooperation and support for the supply of vaccines and critical medical equipment and supplies, as per the decision for the government,” a senior Foreign Ministry official told the Post on condition of anonymity.
Also, on May 4 , 11 Nepali ambassadors and representatives from various Nepali missions including those in the Middle East, Israel, Pakistan, Egypt, South Africa and Malaysia held a virtual meeting and discussed the impact of the new Covid variants on their host countries and efforts made by the countries to tame the pandemic, status of immunisations in those countries, and how Nepal can learn from them.
“We have also received instructions from the Foreign Ministry to look for medical equipment and supplies in the local market and also seek assistance,” said Nepali ambassador to Oman Sarmila Parajuli Dhakal.
Some missions have started purchasing medicines and ventilators as requested, another ambassador told the Post.
“The results are already visible,” the senior Foreign Ministry official said, “India has lifted the ban on the export of liquid oxygen to Nepal, China is providing 2,000 oxygen cylinders and we are receiving 10,000 vials of Remsidivir from Bangladesh soon.”
India’s Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday wrote to the chief secretaries of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar governments that there are no restrictions on the overland movement of goods including medical oxygen and persons to Nepal.
“By Saturday, we will receive 30 metric tons of liquid oxygen from India,” a Nepali diplomat based in New Delhi told the Post Friday. “Since Serum Institute has ramped up its vaccine production, they have assured us that we will receive one millions doses of Covid vaccine soon.”
The Indian government has restricted the export of the Covid-19 vaccines as the country witnesses a catastrophic second wave of the pandemic with the country reporting more than 400,000 infections daily. On Saturday India reported more than 4,000 deaths, a record.
But it could resume exports of vaccines in a month or two, the New Delhi-based diplomat said.
“Indian government officials during conversations with us have assured that they will resume their flagship “ vaccine maitri” initiative from June-July and will restart supply of Covid vaccines to neighboring countries like Nepal,” the diplomat said.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, Prime Oli once again appealed to the international community to support Nepal in its fight against the pandemic during an interview with the CNN.