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Coronavirus outbreak: How European Union helps Kyrgyzstan

The outbreak of coronavirus has affected almost all countries of the world. At the same time, many of them help their neighbors, while continuing the fight against the epidemic. The European Union Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Eduard Auer told 24.kg news agency what kind of assistance the republic received from the EU.

— Europe suffers from the virus itself, but nonetheless EU helps Kyrgyzstan? Why?

— Indeed, Europe has suffered from the pandemic too. But it does not mean that we only focus on ourselves when other countries of the world are in an even more vulnerable position. The EU as the major power has committed to support its partners around the world.

The EU developed a dedicated Team Europe package totaling more than EUR 20 billion for a world-wide support package.

Eduard Auer

The European Commission, EU member states and European development banks have contributed to the package in order to support other countries of the world.

— How much of the allocated assistance goes to the Kyrgyz Republic?

— As part of Team Europe approach, we have prepared a support package for Kyrgyzstan totaling more than EUR 36 million. It includes a EUR 30.8 million grant for direct budget support. These funds will be oriented at supporting education and social protection sectors as well as digitalization agenda of government.

As part of Team Europe approach, Germany has committed EUR 500,000 to GIZ for the support of the COVID Contingency Health plan and facilitated the timely opening of an Emergency Clinic in Jalalabad, financed through KfW (EUR 3 million).

On the top of this, the European Investment Bank, the EU’s lending arm, has made a EUR 22 million loan available for supporting the private sector within the anti-crisis plan of the Government.

The remaining EUR 5.2 million are the funds reoriented from ongoing EU projects and programmes in Kyrgyzstan to cover urgent needs of Kyrgyz beneficiaries and general population.

— Can you give examples of such assistance?

— For instance, we provided 4,750 pieces of protective personal equipment for penitentiary and the state customs service. Residents of Batken region received food packages and various consultations, while medical centers in Batken and Osh were handed over crucial supplies. Similar actions will be done by several other EU projects.

— Does the EU implement any training programs?

— Yes, certainly. We also pay attention on supporting mental health of vulnerable groups and awareness-raising campaigns on COVID-19. So far, over 20,000 people have already received training through webinars on how to use, assess and disseminate online information, and on how to combat fake news related to the pandemic.

Additionally, to facilitate continued learning for children, the EU provided EUR 80,000 to develop online/distance learning platforms and contents, online assessment tools and a communication campaign to promote distance learning.

— How does the EU support victims of gender and domestic violence?

— Jointly with the UN, we adapted Spotlight Initiative on gender-based violence to open shelters for affected women and help victims of the domestic violence through consultations and mental support. More activities will be done, they will be announced in due course soon by the UN and us.

— Can you give examples when individual countries of Europe also provided assistance?

— For example, EUR 17 million from KfW projects will be used by the Ministry of Finance for loans to SMEs.

Germany has also allocated EUR 200,000 for the crises response of the Red Cross / Red Crescent in Central Asia.

Additionally, in cooperation with WHO, Poland sent nine medical professionals from the Polish Centre for International Aid to support the Kyrgyz medical teams in Bishkek and Osh to share and exchange expertise with Kyrgyz medical specialists. To note, they were very impressed by the professionalism of Kyrgyz doctors.

— Will the European Union continue implementation of initiatives in the Kyrgyz Republic to support its efforts in the fight against coronavirus?

— Further actions within existing programmes will assist to mitigate the impact and to facilitate the recovery process. The broader response will include assistance to business recovery and job preservation, support to agro-businesses and ensuring the provision of basic services to the population, for example access to safe clean water and sanitation.