In Covid-19 crisis, France to aid India’s most vulnerable with 200 million euros

France on Thursday announced it will provide financial aid of up to 200 million euros to support vulnerable sections of society amid the Covid-19 pandemic, delivering on a commitment made by President Emmanuel Macron.

“Joining hands to overcome #covid19: Through the French Development Agency @AFD_en, France is providing financial support of up to € 200 million to boost social welfare systems and protect vulnerable populations in India!” French ambassador Emmanuel Lenain tweeted.

The advisory board of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) has allocated the funds and is expected to sign an agreement with India’s finance ministry in the coming weeks to support welfare measures and the most vulnerable sections of society, people familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity.

The AFD funds and supports projects in 115 countries aimed at creating a fairer and more sustainable world. It focuses on projects related to climate, biodiversity, education, urban development and health.

Macron had discussed the financial aid during his March 31 telephone conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which also focused on collaboration in the fight against Covid-19.

The people cited above said the navies of India and France are also holding preliminary discussions on their next joint exercise, which is expected to be held after the Covid-19 crisis. Currently, both navies are engaged in missions to repatriate their nationals from the Indian Ocean region.

The Indian Navy is conducting Operation Samudra Setu, using large warships to repatriate some 1,000 Indian nationals from the Maldives. The French Navy is engaged in Operation Resilience to provide support to citizens in France’s Indian Ocean territories in the fight against Covid-19.

“From Varuna drills to joint maritime surveillance, [French] & [Indian] navies maintain their cooperation efforts, a cornerstone of our #strategicpartnership. They are fully engaged in Samudra Setu & Resilience ops respectively, aiding people facing #COVID19 pandemic ordeal,” French ambassador Lenain tweeted.

Exactly a year ago, the Indian and French navies had conducted the 17th edition of the joint exercise Varuna with 12 vessels taking part in air, surface and underwater drills.

“Reaching a decisive phase in interoperability, it heralded a joint maritime surveillance mission to be conducted in the French Exclusive Economic Zone in February 2020 with an Indian patrol aircraft and a French surveillance frigate,” the French embassy said in a statement.

“In 2020, the two navies continue to maintain their cooperation efforts, which are a cornerstone of the strategic partnership between France and India,” the statement added.




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