Australia provides COVID-19 support to North East Indian Ocean neighbours

  • Joint media release with:
  • Senator the Hon Zed Seselja, Minister for International Development and the Pacific
21 May 2021

Australia is working in partnership with our neighbours to minimise the impacts of COVID-19 on our region. We will support Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka in their response to increasing COVID-19 cases.

We will provide $17.5 million in funding for emergency relief with support to be delivered by trusted on-the-ground partners. We will respond directly to the identified needs of our partners through the procurement of critical supplies, including oxygen and ventilators. Australia will also support frontline health workers and help improve contact tracing.

In Bangladesh, Australia will provide an additional $5 million to partners, including the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society for the purchase of essential supplies, including oxygen and related equipment. This is in addition to $5.7 million provided through BRAC, World Food Programme (WFP), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), including for equipment and training for health systems strengthening.

In Nepal, we will provide $7 million for the purchase of essential equipment, through the UN and existing NGO partners. Australia is already providing medical equipment to hospitals in the most severely affected areas bordering India, as well as PPE, COVID-19 testing kits and related training for health workers.

In Sri Lanka, we will provide an additional $5.5 million to the UN SDG Fund for critical supplies and health systems support to the Ministry of Health. Australia has already provided over $6.2 million in COVID-19 related support to Sri Lanka in 2020-21. Earlier this week, Australia delivered oxygen and related supplies through UNICEF, including 291 oxygen cylinders and 342 oxygen regulators.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Marise Payne said Australia is committed to supporting countries in the North East Indian Ocean region as they face a surge in cases.

“Australia’s contribution will go directly to those on the ground delivering much-needed assistance to those who need it most. Communities in Australia are concerned for friends and family in Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

“In partnership with our friends, we will continue to support the region to respond to and recover from COVID-19.”

Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator the Hon Zed Seselja said Australia is working closely with trusted NGO partners in the region to procure critical medical and humanitarian supplies.

“Through our partners Australia is procuring oxygen, ventilators, PPE and other much needed medical supplies identified by our friends in Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, as well as bolstering the contact tracing efforts of local health authorities,” Minister Seselja said.

This support for our North East Indian Ocean neighbours is in addition to Australia’s $37.1 million support package for India’s COVID-19 response.

The Australian Government provides 24-hour consular emergency assistance. For urgent consular assistance, contact the Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas and 1300 555 135 from within Australia.

Australians seeking travel advice should consult the Smartraveller website. For non-urgent enquiries, contact the nearest Australian embassy or consulate or email smartraveller@dfat.gov.au

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