Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, the Head of the European Union delegation has said that the N21bn (€50m) donated to Nigeria by the European Union is largely meant for the poor.
“That is why part of the €50m we provide will also be for the relief and safety net for the most vulnerable people, internally displaced persons. The poor people that depend on the informal markets, they do day-to-day work to put food on their table; the elderly, IDPs, and these, particularly, vulnerable people are the centre-stage of our intervention,” he said.
Earlier, he had said that the donation was also meant for the provision of Personal Protection Equipment, kits, and to double the testing capacity for COVID-19 in the country.
Fielding questions from journalists in Abuja on Tuesday, shortly after announcing the €50m donation at the Presidential Villa, Karlsen said the fund, which would be administered by the United Nations would increase the capacity of COVID-19 treatment in the country.
He said, “The pandemic requires global responses and if we try to fix it country by country, we may not get it right and that is why we are adopting a multilateral approach.
“So, Team Europe came up with a significant package for Nigeria; we are mobilising €50m and another €1.2m that we already gave as part of humanitarian assistance through UNICEF.”
Karlsen stressed that the EU was concerned about the health and economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, noting that Europe did not want Nigeria to experience what it was going through presently.
Earlier, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), commended the European Union for the donation.
Receiving the EU delegation, Buhari said the donation would go a long way in supporting Nigeria’s efforts at controlling and containing the virus.
The President, according to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, also conveyed the condolences of the government and people of Nigeria to EU-member countries and families that lost their loved ones to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said, “Although the EU is facing significant challenges due to this pandemic, I am indeed touched and grateful that the EU still had the vision and foresight to remember its friends, partners and allies across the world.”
In his remarks, Karlsen described the donation, channelled through the United Nations COVID-19 basket fund, as the largest single contribution to the response in Nigeria so far and the largest support that EU is providing anywhere outside Europe.
He said, “We heard your call for assistance and the EU has reacted swiftly as a demonstration of our true partnership.”