In order to successfully stop the spread of COVID-19, which was declared a pandemic in March 2020, it is important for citizens and governments to contribute equally. Getting the spread of the virus under control and protecting everyone’s health requires halting the spread of the virus equally in all countries.
Humanitarian aid and development cooperation
Estonia has allocated €25 000 to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), €50 000 to the Contingency Fund for Emergencies (CFE) of the World Health Organization (WHO) and €100 000 to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) as humanitarian aid for containment and recovery efforts.
Estonia also responded to the UN’s global call to action on humanitarian aid and allocated €100 000 to the WHO to stop the spread of the virus in the poorest countries of the world with ongoing conflicts and weak healthcare systems. Particular consideration is given to supporting vulnerable groups in these regions, such as the elderly, the disabled, women and children.
Additionally, in 2020 Estonia has supported Ukraine, Syria, Mali, Iraq and Palestine with a total of €525 000 through the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), directly or indirectly aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus.
In order to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus, as of 24 April there are plans to offer support through humanitarian aid and development cooperation projects to Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus among Eastern Partnership countries, Montenegro and North Macedonia in the Western Balkans, Syria in the Middle East, and Libya, Ghana and Kenya in Africa, and also Afghanistan.
Supporting NATO allies
Estonia joined other NATO members in supporting Italy and Spain, and sent a total of 60 000 masks as well as disinfectants to both countries. Estonia also supported both countries with €100 000 each through the Red Cross.
The coordination of consular assistance
After the outbreak of the crisis, Estonia responded promptly to travel restrictions and cooperated with other European Union member states, including the Nordic-Baltic (NB8) states, to help Estonian and other EU citizens return home as quickly as possible. For example, citizens of Lithuania, Latvia and Finland were repatriated from Spain, Portugal, Sweden and other European destinations with special flights of Nordica and travel agencies, and with Tallink’s emergency boat links. Estonian embassies also offered support to citizens of our neighbouring countries by informing them of available options for returning home.
Estonia has unique and extensive experience in creating digital solutions for the public sector, and the coronavirus crisis has demonstrated the importance of digitalisation on all levels of society. In addition to direct material support, Estonia is also prepared to support countries in the domain of digitalisation, based on its own experiences. For example, on the day the emergency situation was declared in the country, Estonia announced an online hackathon to come up with innovative solutions to the crisis, and this evolved into the global event The Global Hack with 12 000 participants, and currently there are plans for holding a Europe-Africa crisis hackathon. Some countries and unions, such as the Union for the Mediterranean and Smart Africa have contacted Estonia’s foreign representations for consultations on experiences with digital affairs. In the framework of development cooperation, Estonia is also providing e-health and e-education solutions for fighting the coronavirus crisis to partner countries such as Ukraine, Georgia, Kenya and Ghana.