France to set aside nearly $1.3 billion to combat
France’s President Emmanuel Macron announced Thursday nearly $1.3 billion of development aid
France’s President Emmanuel Macron announced Thursday nearly $1.3 billion of development aid to Africa for the fight against the coronavirus.
While most of the money will be reallocated from funds already set aside for international aid, the announcement is part of an initiative from the French government to highlight COVID-19’s potentially debilitating health and economic impact on Africa.
"We will no doubt have to consider organizing a humanitarian airlift from Europe to transport aid [to Africa],” France’s foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drain, told the French National Assembly on Thursday.
“The needs are immense” in the continent, he added, calling for a moratorium on interest rate payments and the restructuring of debt in countries where the pandemic will have the most impact.French President Emmanuel Macron takes part in a video conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, April 8, 2020.French President Emmanuel Macron takes part in a video conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, April 8, 2020.Ludovic Marin/Pool via Reuters
While the continent has not experienced the same level of coronavirus cases as other areas of the world, some observers believe it could be the next global hotspot.
“Case numbers are increasing exponentially in the African region,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, said last week.
“It took 16 days from the first confirmed case in the region to reach 100 cases. It took a further 10 days to reach the first thousand. Three days after this, there were 2,000 cases, and two days later we were at 3,000,” she added.A man assembles beds for newly installed field hospital which will be set with 100 beds after the drill to test their capabilities for the influx of COVID-19 coronavirus patients at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, April 9, 2020.A man assembles beds for newly installed field hospital which will be set with 100 beds after the drill to test their capabilities for the influx of COVID-19 coronavirus patients at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, April 9, 2020.Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP via Getty Images
France’s development agency says that the African aid package would include nearly 1 billion euros in loans to countries to assist public development banks and to strengthen national coronavirus responses. The plan only includes 150 million euros in direct monetary donations.
“COVID-19 has the potential not only to cause thousands of deaths, but to also unleash economic and social devastation,” Moeti said Tuesday.MORE: Japan's sudden spike in coronavirus cases after Tokyo Olympics postponement raises eyebrows
Nineteen countries, most with historic ties to France, will receive the majority of the announced aid.
France’s aid package is in addition to the European Union’s planned 20 billion euro aid package to the continent, Asia, Latin America and the Balkans, which was announced Wednesday.
Source : abcnews.go.com