COVID-19 IN AFRICA

UN hails African leaders for efforts to flatten virus curve

António Guterres said that the pandemic has threatened African progress.

In Summary

• UN secretary-general said that vigilance and preparedness are still critical at this period of the pandemic which has claimed almost 3,000 lives in Africa.

• Guterres said that Africa has responded swiftly to the pandemic which in turn has seen lower cases being reported from the continent.

Image: STAR

United Nations secretary-general António Guterres has commended Africa leaders together with the African Union leadership in the efforts that they have put in place to reduce cases of the novel coronavirus.

During a briefing, Guterres said that Africa has responded swiftly to the pandemic which in turn has seen lower cases being reported from the continent.

“In recent years Africans have done much to advance the well-being of the continent’s people. Economic growth has been strong. The digital revolution has taken hold. A free trade area has been agreed upon,” Guterres said.

 
 

The secretary-general added that the pandemic has threatened African progress.

“It will aggravate long-standing inequalities and heighten hunger, malnutrition and vulnerability to disease. Already, demand for Africa’s commodities, tourism and remittances are declining. The opening of the trade zone has been pushed back – and millions could be pushed into extreme poverty.”

He said that vigilance and preparedness are still critical at this period of the pandemic which has claimed more almost 3,000 lives in Africa.

Guterres said that the UN agencies, country teams, peacekeeping operations and humanitarian workers are providing support at this time and that UN solidarity flights have delivered millions of test kits, respirators and other supplies, reaching almost the entire continent.

He further said that “many difficult decisions will need to be taken as the pandemic unfolds, and it will be essential to retain the trust and participation of citizens throughout.”

Guterres called for international action to strengthen Africa’s health systems, maintain food supplies, avoid a financial crisis, support education, protect jobs, keep households and businesses afloat, and cushion the continent against lost income and export earnings.

“African countries should also have quick, equal and affordable access to any eventual vaccine and treatment that must be considered global public goods,” he said.

 
 

African leaders have been challenged to sustain their efforts to silence the guns and address violent extremism.

Guterres has welcomed African support for his call for a global ceasefire.

He said political processes and elections in the coming months will offer potential milestones for stability and peace.

The secretary-general said that he has been calling for a global response package amounting to at least 10 per cent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product.

“For Africa, that means more than $200 billion as additional support from the international community," he said.

He added that “I also continue to advocate a comprehensive debt framework -- starting with an across-the-board debt standstill for countries unable to service their debt, followed by targeted debt relief and a comprehensive approach to structural issues in the international debt architecture to prevent defaults. “