The European Union (EU) announced its decision to grant EUR 3 million to Maldives in order to support efforts against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
According to EU, a total of EUR 1 million will be allocated to the health sector, while the remaining EUR 2 million will go towards the recovery of tourism industry, including smaller operators and their employees.
EU Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Denis Chaibi stated that "In these unprecedented times, the EU-Maldives collaborative approach is needed more than ever. It is only together that we can address this global challenge, which was unimaginable only a couple of months ago".
"European solidarity are not empty words: it means working jointly so that the health and tourism sectors in the Maldives can benefit from European funding, and that Europeans will be able to come back faster to the Maldives”.
Acknowledging the offer of assistance extended at a time of global crisis, Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid said that the gesture demonstrated reinvigorated ties between Maldives and the EU.
"I thank the EU for this timely assistance, which would help the Maldives in strengthening its health sector and assist in the economic recovery efforts, in particular, in the tourism related sectors. We also hope to receive greater participation from the EU for the country’s socio-economic recovery plans", he said.
The EU has described the Maldivian government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic as decisive, transparent and effective. Furthermore, it welcomed the state's collaborative approach, stating that it facilitated the swift and organized repatriation of European tourists in Maldives.
Maldives' economy is heavily reliant on its tourism sector. As over 70 percent of the country’s GDP is attributed to revenue generated by the tourism industry, Maldives’ economy continues to face severe repercussions due to travel restrictions imposed over the COVID-19 pandemic. It is estimated that the country will face a shortfall of approximately USD 450 million (MVR 6.9 billion) in foreign currency due to the protective measures.
Maldives presently records a total of 19 confirmed and six active cases of COVID-19, with a total of 13 recoveries. Four Maldivians remain positive in the country, while two others—one in the UK and another in Malaysia—have tested positive for the virus. Thus far, no local to local transmissions have been recorded.
The World Health Organization has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The novel coronavirus has infected over 1.5 million people and claimed over 89,870 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, more than 340,100 people have recovered.