COVID-19 deaths pass 1000 in South Asia, Maldives faces various challenges

[TamilNet, Thursday, 23 April 2020, 11:15 GMT]
More than one thousand people have perished in South Asia due to COVID-19 pandemic as of Tuesday, and the cases of infection stand at 35,000, according to a news report filed by Turkish Anadolu Agency on Wednesday. India is the worst-hit country passing more than 20,000 reported cases of infection, followed by Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund has approved a disbursement of US $28.9 million to the Maldives on Thursday. The Maldivian economy, which is dependent on tourism revenues standing for more than 60 per cent of the country’s GDP, is struggling to cope with the challenge of diversifying its economy.

The Maldivian government took a u-turn in its regional and global strategic alignment after the pro-China president Abdulla Yameen lost the elections in 2018.

Foreign Minister of the Maldives Abdulla Shahid went on record in January 2020 that his country would be backing the “Indo-Pacific Strategy” (IPS), the maritime naval strategy of the USA.

However, China is still seeking to renew its relations, donating COVID-19 medical assistance to the Maldives as well as to other small states in South Asia.

Beijing extended a syndicated loan to Colombo by USD 500 million last month.

Meanwhile, reports of violent attacks by Islamic extremist groups are also on the rise in the Maldives within a year after the Easter Sunday attacks targeted “Sri Lanka” and caused a regime change in the island.

The Islam State (IS) group has claimed responsibility for its first-ever attack that destroyed five boats at Mahibadhoo harbour in the Maldives. The attack took place last Wednesday.

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External Links:
The Diplomat: Islamic State Terror in the Maldives as COVID-19 Arrives
Anadolu Agency: South Asia: Virus cases top 35,000, deaths pass 1,000
IMF: IMF Executive Board Approves a US$28.9 Million Disbursement to the Republic of Maldives to Address the COVID-19 Pandemic



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