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EU, Germany extends support as second wave of coronavirus ravages India

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New Delhi, Apr 25: The European Union (EU) and Germany have extended support to India amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the country which has led shortage of hospital beds and medical-grade oxygen.

A senior official of the 27-nation powerful bloc said the European Union (EU) has already activated its Civil Protection Mechanism to mobilise support for India including supplying urgently needed oxygen and medicines.

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Under the mechanism, the EU plays a central role in coordinating its responses to emergencies in Europe and beyond.

As India reels under a massive spike in coronavirus cases, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said the EU stands in "full solidarity" with the people of India.

"Alarmed by the epidemiological situation in India. We are ready to support. The EU is pooling resources to respond rapidly to India''s request for assistance via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism," der Leyen said in a tweet.

EU Ambassador to India Ugo Astuto said the European Union, together with its member states, will do its utmost to support India in this difficult moment.

Janez Lenarcic, European Commissioner for Crisis Management in charge of European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid, said the EU''s Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) is coordinating with member states to provide urgently needed oxygen and medicines to India.

"Upon request for assistance by #India, we have activated the #EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The European Union will do its utmost to mobilise assistance to support people of India," he tweeted.

"Our #ERCC is already coordinating EU MS that are ready to provide urgently needed #oxygen & medicine rapidly," he said.

The overall objective of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism is to strengthen cooperation between the member states of the grouping in the field of civil protection.

A joint approach helps to pool capacities and ensures that assistance meets the needs, said an EU official.

In 2020, the mechanism was used more than 90 times, the official said.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday said her government is "urgently" preparing a "mission of support" for India as it battles a massive spike in coronavirus cases that has triggered a severe shortage of medical oxygen in several states.

In a message, Merkel said Germany stands in solidarity with India in the "common fight" against the pandemic.

"To the people of India I want to express my sympathy on the terrible suffering that COVID-19 has again brought over your communities," Merkel said.

"The fight against the pandemic is our common fight. Germany stands in solidarity with India and is urgently preparing a mission of support," added.

Her message was shared on Twitter by German Ambassador to India Walter J Lindner.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani too expressed solidarity with India as it reels under the second wave of the pandemic.

"Our hearts go out to the Indian people & government as they fight the horrendous outbreak of COVID. On behalf of the Afghan people & government, we send our condolences to the families who lost their loved ones & wish a quick recovery to those who are suffering from the virus," Ghani tweeted.

Afghan foreign minister Mohammed Haneef Atmar said India has the prayers and support of all those nations that it has assisted generously with COVID-19 vaccines.

"Our hearts & prayers go to all the great people of India at this time of national struggle against Covid-19. India has the prayers and support of all those nations that it has assisted generously with COVID vaccines.

"India will come out of it even stronger," he said.

On Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed solidarity with India and offered his country''s support to it.

"I want to send a message of solidarity to the Indian people, facing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. France is with you in this struggle, which spares no one. We stand ready to provide our support," Macron said.

India is struggling with the second wave of coronavirus infection and hospitals in several states are reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds in view of a rising number of COVID-19 cases.

Leaders from countries like Australia, China, Pakistan, Bhutan have expressed solidarity with India.

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