Speaking at the High Level Event on the Humanitarian Impact of Combined Conflict, Climate and Environmental Risks held on the sidelines of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly today, His Excellency Abdulla Shahid, Minister of Foreign Affairs, urged the international community to take decisive action to address the transnational issue of climate change amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister Shahid described climate change as a threat multiplier, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows and conflicts over basic resources such as food and water. In this regard, he relied on the current statistics to estimate that by 2050, 200 million people, or one person in 45 worldwide, will have been displaced by the effects of climate change. He further drew attention to the link between climate change and armed conflict, noting that if left unchecked, this could worsen both economic and social tensions in conflict or post-conflict zones, with serious implications especially for the poor and marginalized populations. Minister Shahid then joined the organisers, to call for a deeper analysis of combined conflict, climate and environmental risks and vulnerabilities, and for further reflection on how humanitarian responses should adapt to bolster the resilience of the communities that are most vulnerable.

This high level event was co-hosted by Belgium, the European Union, the Republic of Niger and the International Committee of the Red Cross. It provided a platform for discussion based on the integration of a humanitarian perspective in the areas of climate and security, and featured the launch of the updated ICRC Guidelines on the Protection of the Natural Environment in Armed Conflict. The event was also attended by His Excellency Lowcock, Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General (OCHA), Mr. Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) among many other high level officials.

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The annual Informal Meeting of the SAARC Council of Ministers was held virtually today. The meeting was chaired by Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, with participation by Ministers of Foreign Affairs of all SAARC member countries. H.E Esala Ruwan Weerakoon, the new Secretary General of SAARC presented the progress report of SAARC on the status of regional cooperation since the last Informal Meeting in 2019.

Representing the Maldives, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdulla Shahid, in his statement emphasized the importance of regional cooperation to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Minister Shahid noted the devastating impacts of COVID-19 pandemic in the region and to the Maldives, where tourism, the main economic pillar, has collapsed. Minister Shahid expressed his deepest gratitude to the Government of India for their overwhelming support to the Maldives in the fight against COVID-19, and beyond. The financial package of US $ 250 million pledged by India is the largest financial support announced by a bilateral partner during COVID 19. Minister Shahid also thanked the Government of Bangladesh for their generous assistance in grant aid and providing medical personnel, and all member states for ensuring the welfare of Maldivians and their repatriation.

Minister Shahid highlighted the need to strengthen intra-regional trade and connectivity, and enhance access to quality education to unleash the full potential of SAARC. In addition, Minister Shahid called for unity among members to eradicate terrorism, the core factor which impedes development in the region, and combat global climate change. Increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather has greatly affected the region this year.

During the meeting, each Member State delivered a country statement reviewing SAARC activities, with a focus on efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in their respective countries and the SAARC region.

In conclusion, all Member States underlined the importance of SAARC and pledged their commitment to work closely together to promote peace, stability and prosperity for the South Asian people.

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The Government of the United States of America today, donated 60 portable critical care ventilators to the Government of Maldives.

The ventilators were handed over symbolically at an event held virtually, by the Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Maldives, Alaina Teplitz, to the High Commissioner of the Republic of Maldives to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Omar Abdul Razzak, in Colombo. This event was witnessed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Maldives Abdulla Shahid and senior officials from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Male’.

This generous donation from the Government of the United States was facilitated by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to increase the capacity and enhance the preparedness of the health sector of the Maldives to support the COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. These critical supplies would not only complement the Government’s efforts to control and contain the spread of COVID-19 but also play a vital role in expanding the capacity of the Intensive Care Units at hospitals even after the pandemic, to treat patients suffering from other respiratory illnesses.

Speaking at the event, Minister Shahid noted that the United States has always proven to be a close and a reliable friend, especially during challenging times such as now. He thanked Secretary of State, Michael R. Pompeo and the United States government for the continuous unwavering support extended to the Maldives and noted that such generosity and friendship from close partners have increased the capacity of the country’s front-line workers to combat the spread of the virus as well as address long-term goals such as reviving the economy.

The United States has so far contributed over USD 4 million to the Maldives COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. This includes a grant aid of USD 2 million, multiple donations of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), PCR machine and related equipment, as well as donations through several multilateral agencies such as IAEA and UNICEF. The sixty ventilators that were handed over today is the most recent donation of critical supplies from the US towards this effort. These critical care ventilators would be dispersed to hospitals across 20 atolls by the Ministry of Health.

In her speech, Ambassador Teplitz reaffirmed the commitment of the Government of the United States to continue working together to further strengthen the dynamic partnership between the two countries.

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The Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Abdulla Shahid has sent a video message for the Virtual Reception held today to commemorate the founding of the People’s Republic of China. In his message, Minister Shahid congratulated the People’s Republic of China on behalf of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the Maldivian Government and the people of the Maldives. He said that China has accomplished an extraordinary number of milestones on progress and economic prosperity since its founding in 1949, and has continued to demonstrate its leadership in important global areas, such as public health.

Minister Shahid thanked the Chinese people, the provincial governments, and a number of Chinese companies for assisting the Maldives during the ongoing pandemic, and expressed his hope that Maldives will benefit from the vaccines that are currently being developed by a number of Chinese pharmaceutical companies.

Speaking on the economy, Minister Shahid stated the most important goal for the Maldives during the ongoing economic recovery is to increase tourist arrivals to the country. He urged the restoration of flights, trade, connectivity and people to people contact between Maldives and China at the earliest possible opportunity, while committing to further strengthen existing ties between the countries.

Minister Shahid reiterated that this year marked the 48th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Maldives and China, which is based on strong historic bonds, sovereign equality and mutual respect for territorial integrity. He reaffirmed President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s Government’s full commitment to the One-China Policy.

The National Day of the People’s Republic of China is marked on the 1st of October every year, which commemorates the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China on the same day in 1949 by Chairman Mao Zedong.

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The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Maldives, Abdulla Shahid sends a message of felicitations to His Royal Highness Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on the occasion of the 90th National Day of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Minister’s message reads as follows:

“It is my pleasure to extend sincere greetings and warm wishes to Your Royal Highness, the Government, and the brotherly people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the jubilant occasion of the 90th National Day of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Maldives and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia continue to enjoy close relations based on mutual understanding and goodwill. I am confident that the brotherly relations between our two countries will continue to flourish and prosper in the coming years.

I also take this opportunity to convey my personal good wishes for your good health and well-being, and for the continued happiness, prosperity, and advancement of the brotherly people of Saudi Arabia.

Please accept, Your Royal Highness, the assurances of my highest consideration.”

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