UN General Assembly President postpones India trip due to COVID-19

Yoshita Singh
·3-min read

United Nations, May 5 (PTI) President of the UN General Assembly Volkan Bozkir’s planned visit to India later this month has been postponed due to an “unexpected situation” relating to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Bozkir on Tuesday told reporters that he will be travelling to Bangladesh and Pakistan later this month on the invitation of the respective governments and will also be visiting Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh where he will meet with Rohingya refugees from Myanmar.

Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar's military crackdown, often considered as 'ethnic cleansing' by many rights groups.

Bozkir said that he had also planned a visit to India during his trip to South Asia but postponed it due to an “unexpected situation.” “I also wanted to go to India. It was India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, but unfortunately, an unexpected situation came out and I had to postpone the India part to a later stage. But I will absolutely make sure that I'll go to India as well,” the UN General Assembly President said, referring to India’s COVID-19 crisis.

Asked whether the UN will be able to host a regular General Assembly session in September, he said: “It would be wrong if we make a decision now for September on how the participation will be. Will it be a hybrid format? Or will we have again 10,000 people at UN Headquarters? What happens to civil society? What happens to the bilaterals? These are all questions we have in our minds.” He said June will be a proper time to discuss with the US, the host country of the UN, and local authorities on the COVID-19 situation and feasibility of holding the UN General Assembly.

With New York City aiming to 'fully reopen' on July 1, Bozkir said it will “give us a signal on whether we can have a different type of a high-level week than we had last September”, when all meetings were mostly virtual with minimal in-person presence in the UN premises.

“The important thing is not to risk any people's health… we must absolutely go along with the mitigation measures, we must listen to what science is saying to us and we must not really open everything without any precaution.

“If I were the host country, I wouldn't have made any plans for September as of now – because with this pandemic, unfortunately, we are living day by day or week by week. We suddenly see something happening, like what happens in India. Nobody was expecting this suddenly to happen. It changes all the plans. So, I think it's better to start talking about it, to start discussing it, and then leave it to the science and to the local authorities,” he added.

India is struggling with an unprecedented second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic with more than 3,00,000 daily new coronavirus cases being reported in the past one week. PTI YAS CPS AKJ CPS