Australia backs India’s call for WHO reform post Covid-19 crisis, says envoy-designate

Austrailian Envoy O’Farrell  in india

Australia supports India’s involve the reform of the world Health Organization (WHO) once the world has overcome the Coronavirus crisis as a part of efforts to shape the post Covid-19 global order, Australian high commissioner-designate Barry O’Farrell said on Friday.

 O’Farrell acknowledged Covid-19-related lockdowns and travel restrictions across the region had impacted the repatriation of Australian citizens stranded in India, but said over 2,000 of them had already been flown back on five flights, and more would return on four flights next week.

In an interview with Hindustan Times, he also spoke of the measures put in place by Australian authorities to assist the many thousands of Indians stranded therein country, especially students who are provided an emergency grant of Australian $500 each (about Rs 25,000).

“There are regular discussions about how best we will shape the post-Covid world order. as an example , Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s out in the G20 for reform of the WHO, which are some things that our government has also been supportive of,” said O’Farrell, who has thus far been unable to present his credentials due to the pandemic.

“The Australian government has talked about the necessity to possess an independent review of the way that the [WHO] has handled this pandemic, but just one occasion the worst of Covid has passed.

we expect that would be a natural area of future collaboration between the 2 governments.” During a virtual meeting of G20 leaders on March 26, Modi had involved the reform of inter-governmental organisations like WHO, saying they were supported the last century’s model and haven’t adapted to affect new challenges.

Australia, O’Farrell said, has been a long-standing supporter of India “taking a leadership role within the multilateral system, including as a permanent member of the UN Security Council”.

 He added: “Our belief is that stepping up therein way also will be critically important within the post-Covid world.” Of the 6,500 Australian nationals who registered with the High Commission here, quite 2,000 returned in five flights thus far and more are going to be repatriated by four flights next week, O’Farrell said.

The evacuation has been complicated by travel restrictions in places like Singapore, via which flights need to transit. “Has it been easy? No. The people here at the High Commission are working hell for leather exploring options and…not every company that we’ve approached was either able or willing to supply services,” he said.

While praising the “incredible assistance” from the Central and state governments, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and police forces for facilitating the movement of Australian citizens, O’Farrell said not everyone who had registered intended to go away India.

 “It’s clear to me…that India’s policy settings have averted a number of the alarmist predictions and projections made back in February-March,” he said, adding such factors were influencing decisions by Australian citizens whether to return or stay in India.

 O’Farrell said he’s in close contact with India’s envoy in Canberra, A Gitesh Sarma, to make sure the welfare of Indians stranded in Australia.

The Australian government and universities have announced measures to support Indian students, “who are our friends, colleagues, classmates and temporary members of the Australian community to make sure they need the support needed to urge through this difficult time”, he said.

 The Australian federal put Australian $100 million into the university sector, which successively put “almost the maximum amount into funds and food banks for assisting international students”, he said.

This included an emergency grant of Australian $500, fee reductions and food pantries for college kids , he added. There are about 600,000 Indians, including some 90,000 students, currently in Australia and like stranded citizens in other parts of the planet , they need been asked to “stay put” in sight of travel restrictions, people conversant in developments said.

Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison, who spoke on phone on April 6, have scheduled a “virtual summit” very soon and therefore the foreign ministers and foreign secretaries of the 2 sides also are in-tuned on cooperating within the fight against Covid-19.

“We’ve also noted India’s generosity in providing free medical supplies to its friends in need, not just within the immediate region but also in reference to Australia.

we glance forward to further positive support from India on our request for PPE (personal protective equipment) and other key medical supplies,” O’Farrell said, adding Australia too had recently sought hydroxychloroquine from India.

[Source: HT]