South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a regional network of human rights defenders, welcomes the decision of the Heads of State of countries in South Asia to discuss together as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), to work out a regional mechanism to combat the Covid 19 pandemic.
The leaders discussed to address the emergency situation by evolving a common strategy to curb Covid – 19 with India proposing the creation of “Covid -19 Emergency Fund”. The dialogue yet again reminded the importance of SAARC to function as a regional organisation to promote the welfare of the people.
SAHR reiterates that there are many other common issues in South Asia that require strong cooperation and collaboration to find solutions and not secluded initiatives. It perceives that in the recent past due to the complexity of political tensions and lack of shared strategic interests among its member-states there was no effective progress in regional cooperation in South Asia.
SAHR is also concerned about the vulnerable communities such as the migrant workers, refugees, prisoners, sex workers, urban poor and many others who would be greatly affected by this pandemic and therefore urge the governments of the region to especially provide assistance to these vulnerable groups.
Further, we call upon the Heads of States of the SAARC countries to begin a new chapter of regional integration in South Asia and re-open the dialogue; collaboratively address numerous critical issues arisen resulting in regional ‘spill overs’; and effectively strive for future regional cooperation in South Asia.
On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights,