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US donates $2.5 million for urgent Covid-19 assistance in Sri Lanka

US President Joe Biden l Photo Credit: CTV News

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced that it will provide an additional US$2.5 million dollars in "urgent COVID-19 assistance" for Sri Lanka. 

The $US2.5 million in American Rescue plan funds will "accelerate equitable access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccinations and strengthen the ability of health workers to address COVID-19," explained USAID in a statement.

"The Ministry of Health in Sri Lanka will also use the assistance to coordinate vaccine distribution, provide cold chain support for the Pfizer vaccine, and strengthen the ability of staff to administer vaccine programs," USAID continued. 

The donation is a part of a broader campaign in which the US has promised to buy 500 million more COVID-19 vaccinations to donate to other countries. 

Amidst pressure from health critics, US President Joe Biden announced the campaign while hosting a virtual summit aimed at boosting the global vaccination rate. "For every one shot we've administered to date in America, we have now committed to donating three shots to the rest of the world," Biden stated.

Since the pandemic's start in March 2020, the USAID has donated a total of $17.9 million to COVID-19 relief in Sri Lanka.

"The US remains committed to partnering with Sri Lanka to end the COVID-19 pandemic, mitigate its devastating social and economic impacts, and build back a world that is even better prepared for future outbreaks," stated USAID. 

Sri Lanka's militarized covid-19 response, which has faced heavy criticism, has seen increased incidents of intimidation, surveillance and harassment of Tamils across the North-East. 

Read more here: Militarised vaccination drive carried out across the North-East

A few months ago, Amnesty International released a scathing report that highlighted Sri Lanka's discriminatory COVID-19 response. In their report, they drew attention to the gag order on the health care sector; the prioritization of those with economic or political privilege at the expense of at-risk groups; the abuse of factory workers and prisoners; as well as the lack of a comprehensive plan to vaccinate the whole population.

Read more here: Amnesty International slams Sri Lanka's discriminatory COVID-19 response

Read the USAID's full statement here.


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