New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday confirmed that there was indeed a patient in the New Zealand High Commission who required emergency treatment but conceded that an open public appeal for oxygen cylinders was not the right way for its New Delhi mission to go about it.
The New Zealand High Commission and the Philippines Embassy had put out tweets seeking emergency supplies of oxygen and had tagged Indian Youth Congress president BV Srinivas who had rushed volunteers with cylinders to both the missions.
This led to a Twitter spat between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Congress leaders Jairam Ramesh after the latter retweeted visuals of oxygen cylinders being given by Youth Congress volunteers to both missions and asked “is the MEA sleeping”.
The New Zealand High Commission had deleted the tweet after the Twitter storm and later put out a fresh one apologising for the flap it had caused in New Delhi.
“There was a message put out and the High Commission has apologised for asking on Twitter for oxygen cylinders. There are channels they can and should be going. But I should recognise that we do have a local staff member in the compound who had been very unwell. This was the basis on which the call was made,” said Ardern in an interview to a local TV channel.
Ardern said it was a decision by the Indian Youth Congress to supply oxygen cylinders to the New Zealand High Commission who directly put out the tweet.
“The High Commission themselves have acknowledged that there should have been a process that should have been used. But again there is an acknowledgment of reason why they had done this in the first place,” she said while stating that the mission has been “very well supported by the Indian government”.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Sunday advised all diplomatic missions not to hoard essential supplies following a Twitter spat between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh over Youth Congress leaders responding to emergency appeals for help from two diplomatic missions.
As a result the MEA called upon the diplomatic missions here not to hoard essential supplies, including oxygen.
Jaishankar had claimed that the supply of cylinders to the Philippines Embassy was an unsolicited offer done “clearly for cheap publicity by you know who”. But he had not commented on the New Zealand High Commission’s call for help.