LONDON – The United Arab Emirates announced its support to Syria as part of its humanitarian action to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic in the war-torn country.
Syria, which has been shattered by nine years of war, has banned entry for foreigners arriving from many countries hit by the coronavirus as part of widening measures to fight the COVID-19 epidemic.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad discussed the repercussions of the spread of the disease in Syria over the phone, according to the UAE state news Aagency WAM.
“I discussed with Syrian President Bashar Alassad updates on COVID-19. I assured him of the support of the UAE and its willingness to help the Syrian people. Humanitarian solidarity during trying times supersedes all matters, and Syria and her people will not stand alone,” tweeted Sheikh Mohamed.
Assad welcomed Sheikh Mohamed’s initiative, appreciating the UAE's humanitarian stance in light of the fast spread of the pandemic in the world, killing thousands of people and bringing the global economy to a standstill.
The Syrian President also welcomed the cooperation with UAE during this difficult time.
The phone call between the two leaders is the first of its kind since the armed conflict in Syria started in 2011.
The UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus in 2018, after seven years of severane of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Syria said on Friday it was banning travel between cities and governorates as part of tightening measures to contain the spread of coronavirus, according to the interior minister.
Syria has reported five cases of coronavirus so far amid fears that any outbreak could be disastrous in a country whose vital infrastructure, including hospitals, has been ravaged by years of conflict.
The travel restriction will be effective from Sunday besides a curfew announced this week from 6 pm to 6 am.
Hundreds of thousands of people displaced by war live in overcrowded camps in Syria’s northwest, raising strong concerns over their safety in case COVID-19 spreads among them.
The UAE also helped other countries that were struggling to combat the spread of coronavirus which has so far infected more than 607,000 and killed over 2,800 people worldwide.
The Emirati authorities extended help to several countries, including Iran, Serbia, Croatia, Afghanistan, China and others, as part of global efforts to limit the spread of the virus.
On March 16, the Gulf Arab state sent two aid planes loaded with medical supplies and relief equipment to coronavirus-hit Iran.
The two planes, which took off from the capital Abu Dhabi, carried more than 32 tons of supplies, including boxes of gloves, surgical masks and protective equipment.
The flight was the second that the UAE has sent to Iran in recent days, as it was preceded by another plane that was sent on March 3 and carried 7.5 tons of medical supplies in cooperation with the World Health Organisation.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Twitter that “UAE’s support, and practical and moral solidarity with friendly peoples and governments in the Coronavirus crisis has been an integral part of the State’s policy.”
“Since the founding years, Zayed planted goodness which blooms every day and my country’s white hands are a firm part of his DNA, formation and journey,” added Gargash.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus thanked the UAE for its continued support for global efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.