BRUSSELS, March 18, 2020 (Xinhua) -- European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks at a press conference after a video conference in Brussels, Belgium, March 17, 2020. The heads of state and government of the European Union (EU) agreed during the video conference on Tuesday to endorse a temporary restriction on travels to the EU territory amid coronavirus concerns. (European Union/Handout via Xinhua)

The European Union (EU) on Monday launched a 60 million U.S. euros anti-COVID-19 assistance program for Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member states.

Speaking at the 60 million euros anti-COVID-19 assistance launching program in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, Johan Borgstam, Head of the EU delegation to Ethiopia, said the program intends to help IGAD member states tackle the health and socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region.

“Through this project we will procure 3.5 million surgical masks and gloves, 70,000 test kits (including 105,000 swabs), eight mobile labs and 24 ambulances,” said Borgstam.

IGAD, founded in 1986, is an east African trading and security bloc that includes Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda.

Borgstam emphasized the COVID-19 pandemic is a global health threat that knows no border and as such can only be dealt through international partnership.

“We’re a time when the spread of the pandemic is accelerating, affecting the most vulnerable communities including migrants, refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs),” said Borgstam.

“Specifically, for Ethiopia, the EU has mobilized and disbursed 10 million Euros in April 2020 as part of its ongoing Health Sector Budget Support to respond to COVID-19 crisis in Ethiopia while about 50 million euros is being mobilized for the economic response,” he said.

Workneh Gebeyehu, Executive Secretary of IGAD, while appreciating the 60 million Euros anti-COVID-19 assistance program, emphasized there is much that needs to be done to beat the pandemic in the east African region.

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