By Sofia Senbit
COVID 19 has revealed the capacity of some countries in terms of their internal health care system and their leadership in overcoming an unprecedented plague. On the contrary, it has shown the weakness and the lack of leadership in some of the world’s biggest powers. The lack of global leadership and coordination among states seems to aggravate the situation. In all this, Korea stands as a model for many of the countries in effectively responding to COVID 19 and supporting other countries in their fight against the pandemic.
Ethiopia is one of the states that receive medical equipment for COVID 19 prevention from Korea. The first assistance was made on May 13th by the Korea government in collaboration with Korean NGOs. The donation was medical equipment worth about 470 thousand US dollars. It includes hand sanitizers, masks, and testing Kits. The second humanitarian assistance was made indirectly via the African Union. On June 23rd the Korean Embassy in Ethiopia has donated 2 million masks to African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). According to the Africa Union, the donation boosts the continental capacity in tackling the pandemic. And the masks will be distributed among the Africa Union member countries one of which is Ethiopia. The Korean Embassy in Ethiopia stated that the Korea government considers the Africa CDC as a priority partner in preventing COVID 19 and for that, it has provided 9 million US dollars worth of financial assistance and shared experience.
Furthermore, The Republic of Korea continues providing food assistance for Ethiopia through The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. This year alone it provided 16 thousand tons of rice. This will help the Ethiopian government provide assistance to its citizens affected by food insecurity. Currently, COVID-19 related restrictions, coupled with the broader economic decline, desert locust upsurge, flooding, and a general decrease in incomes has led to a typically high humanitarian assistance needs across the country.
To alleviate the impact of the pandemic and help Ethiopia, Korea has also made financial support. Just last month the Ethiopian Government and the Export-Import Bank of Korea signed a 70 million US dollars loan agreement which will be provided in the form of medical equipment and emergency response budget. The Ethiopian Monitor stated that Ethiopia is the first African country to which Korea Exim bank provides Economic Development Cooperation fund concessional loans for the purpose of emergency response to tackle COVID-19. The Korean Ambassador to Ethiopia, Lim Hoon-min told the Monitor that “Ethiopia and Korea have continued the historically special cooperation since Ethiopia dispatched a ground troop during the Korean War. In this regard, the Korean government is providing more active support to Ethiopia than any other country.”
This attests to Korean commitment to its seven decades of friendly relations between the two states. The bilateral relation started when Ethiopia sent more than 6000 troops to Korea in the 1950s and fought alongside the UN force in defending the Republic of Korea. Since then they have maintained diplomatic cooperation.
Editor’s note: The writer, Ms. Sofia Senbit, is an Ethiopian student majoring in International Relations at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Korea.