Indian envoy to Mali Anjani Kumar Sahay handing over Indian medicines to Mali's Health Minister Michel Sidibe on 19 May 2020. Photograph:( WION )
India's envoy to Mali Anjani Kumar Sahay said, New Delhi is gifting the African country lifesaving medicines--hydro-chloroquine and paracetamol-- the first consignment was handed over on 19 May 2020.
Indian diaspora in Mali, Africa is collecting funds in the country's fight against COVID pandemic. Speaking to our Principal Diplomatic Correspondent Sidhant Sibal from capital Bamako, India's envoy to Mali Anjani Kumar Sahay said, New Delhi is gifting the African country lifesaving medicines--hydro-chloroquine and paracetamol-- the first consignment was handed over on 19 May 2020. The second instalment of medical supply is expected in the coming days.
WION: How are India and Mali cooperating on COVID Pandemic?
Anjani Kumar Sahay: The relationship between India and Mali is rooted in shared values and principles which is reflected in close cooperation in bilateral and multilateral fora. Apart from cooperation in education, training and capacity building, India has been a development partner through various projects (power transmission lines, solar power etc) under the LOCs. The challenges posed by COVID19 pandemic has made the relationship even stronger. External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar had a telephonic talk with Foreign Minister of Mali Mr Tiebile Drame on 25 April 2020 during which they discussed various aspects of our relationship including cooperation in the areas of security, solar energy and the combat against COVID19. EAM had assured FM Drame of India’s medical supplies. A part of India’s medical assistance, a gift from the people and Government of India, in the form lifesaving medicines (hydro-chloroquine and paracetamol) was handed over to the Health Minister of Mali on 19 May 2020. The second instalment of medical supply is expected in the coming days.
WION: How is Indian Mission reaching out to any Indians in the country?
Anjani Kumar Sahay: About 400 Indians are living across Mali who are engaged in various sectors of the economy, including some professionals working for the UN Peacekeeping Mission or providing various services needed by the Mission.
Apart from the usual methods of communication through emails, phones and latest information being shared on Embassy’s website and social media, we decided to create a WhatsApp group of Indians which is very useful for the Embassy as well the Indians for quick outreach and communication. The Embassy has been regularly communicating with them about various measures being taken by the Governments of India and Mali in the fight against COVID19. We have maintained close contact with the community and assured them of all possible help within the limitations posed by the pandemic. The Embassy has also helped stranded Indians who ran out of means due to prolonged stay in the absence of commercial flights. I must share that some Indians in Mali have taken a good initiative to collect funds among the Indian Diaspora in Mali to contribute to Mali’s fight against COVID19. They feel that their duties are both towards ‘Janam Bhoomi’ and ‘Karam Bhoomi’.
WION: How has the ground situation in Mali changed, how have been Indian diplomats faring?
Anjani Kumar Sahay: Mali’s first case of COVID-19 was reported as late as 25 March 2020. Currently, there are 931 COVID positive cases with 55 deaths. 542 people have recovered so far. The Government of Mali has been carrying out a massive campaign to sensitize people about personal hygiene, social distancing and the need to wear masks. Schools and other educational institutions have been closed. The working hours have been curtailed for offices and business establishments. The night curfew was in place for about a month which has been lifted recently. As in other places, commercial flights have been grounded. As far as the Indian team at the Embassy is concerned, we are a small but committed and motivated team. We are following the guidance given by Prime Minister Modi during his video conference with Indian Ambassadors across the world when he said that we should take care of our health and also attend to the needs of Indians during these challenging times. We remain at the service of the people.