19:02 GMT01 December 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): Indian and Chinese troops clashed in a disputed territory in eastern Ladakh on Monday night. According to Indian Army sources, 20 soldiers including a commanding officer were killed and an unspecified number of troops were injured or missing. There were also reports of casualties on the Chinese side.

    Even as India and China have witnessed a violent skirmish in the Ladakh region resulting in the death of 20 Indian Army personnel, China's Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has offered assistance in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    The bank, based in China's capital city of Beijing, has approved a $750 million loan to India in order to assist the government to “strengthen its response to the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on millions of poor and vulnerable households”.

    “Many of the world’s low and middle-income countries are still in the early stages of the health crisis but are already feeling the impacts of the pandemic. This poses an enormous risk for millions across India who have only recently emerged from poverty”, said AIIB Vice President (Investment Operations) D.J. Pandian.

    “Our support to India also aims to ensure economic resilience to prevent long-term damage to the productive capacity, including human capital, of India’s economy”, Pandian added.

    Quoting the World Bank, the AIIB said in an official statement: “India is extremely vulnerable to the pandemic given that around 270 million people continue to live below the national poverty line and around 81 million live in densely populated informal settlements with limited access to health services”.

    The disruption in economic activities threatens to impact poor households disproportionately, especially women, many of whom are employed in the informal sector, the AIIB added.

    “AIIB’s total sovereign loans to India that have already been approved amount to USD 3.06 billion, including a recent USD 500 million COVID-19 emergency response”, it added.  

    Among the assistance from other parts of the globe in the fight against the pandemic, the United States Agency for International Development has handed over 100 ventilators. The World Bank in April approved a $1 billion COVID emergency response fund for India. In May, the World Bank again approved assistance of $1 billion to India.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed 11,903 deaths in India so far. 



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