New Delhi is supporting African countries during coronavirus pandemic, says India's envoy to Morocco

New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaWritten By: Sidhant SibalUpdated: May 21, 2020, 12:13 AM IST
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India's envoy to Morroco Shambhu S. Kumaran Photograph:(Twitter)

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Speaking to our Principal Diplomatic Correspondent Sidhant Sibal from Rabat, Ambassador Shambhu S. Kumaran said India has sent 6 million units of HCQ to the North African country and has offered training of Morrocans under its eITEC programme. 

India's envoy to Morocco Shambhu S Kumaran has said that the coronavirus pandemic reinforced India's image as a responsible international stakeholder, and corroborated its ability to support African countries. 

Speaking to our Principal Diplomatic Correspondent Sidhant Sibal from Rabat, Ambassador Kumaran said India has sent 6 million units of HCQ to the North African country and has offered training of Morrocans under its eITEC programme. 

As many as 140 Indians have registered for repatriation from the country.

WION:  How are both countries cooperating to deal with COVID?

Shambhu S Kumaran: We had received a request for HCQ from Morocco -- 6 million units. These have now been delivered and an export licence was issued about two weeks ago. Delivery has been completed. 

That is one significant manifestation of our support to Morocco in the current crisis. We are trying to deliver our eITEC courses, our capacity building courses. One of the representatives of Morocco's ministry of health had attended the course that was recently offered. 

We want to expand telemedicine cooperation, for which we signed MoU in 2017 and we trying to develop avenues of cooperation.

WION: How is the mission reaching out to the stranded Indians?

Shambhu S Kumaran: There are two kinds groups in the Indian community. One is a community that has been settled in Morocco for a very long time. 

The number of community members have dwindled with years. But we have a few hundred families, who are still in Morocco and continue to contribute to the society and the economy. 

We have a class of Indian businessmen, tourist and professionals and unfortunately -- they have been stranded here. We had open registration for a potential repatriation flight and received 140 registration and that is the kind of numbers we are looking at. 

WION: Any Indian infected with COVID-19? When does mission plan to start repatriation? 

Shambhu S Kumaran: Thankfully, at the moment we have no infection amongst the Indians and that includes, embassy personnel and families and the ones I mentioned. 

With regard to the repatriation and evacuation flight, we are strongly engaged with the authorities in India, with the MEA and all the other colleagues from the government and exploring best possible. 

There are some constraints in terms of limited numbers. Indians here are from different states, so we do not have numbers to operate point to point flight which was done at first. But hopeful incoming phases we will be able to accommodate a flight here and I am strongly engaged with my colleagues in India to try and materialise that flight.

WION: How has the situation been in the country? Any models we can follow?

Shambhu S Kumaran: The situation in Morocco is reasonably under control. The numbers are not insignificant, however a decline in trend in new infections. The recovery rate is very good. The mortality rate is declining to close to zero. 

So positive signs, however, they had lockdown for two months and just a day before yesterday they decided to extend the lockdown for three weeks till June 10. 

The containment strategy is similar to the ones that India has followed. We are monitoring any innovative methods they have but at the moment nothing specific. 

WION: How has the condition of the Indian diplomats been? 

Shambhu S Kumaran: We try to prioritise interface with Indians. Indian diplomats in the mission have been in constant and regular touch, we try to keep morale high. They are in a difficult situation as you understand -- as they are separated from families and trying to survive in a situation under the lockdown. 

With regard to work, a lot of the work has shifted online, communicated a lot through email. We have a video conference and other such methods which has been used increasingly.

I think the intensity of work has declined a bit but hopeful of more and more interaction coming ahead.

WION:  How has India been reaching to Africa and that part of Africa? How it has been received? 

Shambhu S Kumaran: Pandemic has reinforced India's image as a very responsible international stakeholder. We have been able to convey our ability to support other countries in Africa who are in need, despite the fact we have great need of our own and that has contrasted very well with some of the other countries approach the problem. So think, we reinvigorated India's role in Africa and it has given us further strength as we move ahead.