DIAMNIADIO, SENEGAL- Restrictions on travel to South Africa and other African countries
in light of the omicron variant are hypocritical, harsh, and unsupported by science, South Africa’s
president declared Monday. Among his references was the U.N. chief, who called such
restrictions “travel apartheid.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke at the Dakar International Forum for Peace and Security, where he made the remarks that the restrictions punish those who helped tell the world about the existence of a new variant of Coronavirus.
“When South African scientists discovered omicron, they raised the alarm and informed the entire world that a new variant was coming through and what was the outcome?” he asked, replying “it was punishment.”.
It has not been science, but self-interest that has driven these countries said Ramaphosa. “We say those bans must be removed with immediate effect,” he declared.
According to Ramaphosa, the travel restrictions harm struggling economies in the region that rely on tourism. The pandemic, access to vaccines, and inequalities for African countries were major concerns for the leader when it came to Africa’s peace and security.
His remarks were followed by those of Senegalese President Macky Sall, Niger President Mohamed Bazoum, and African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, among others, who discussed issues of insecurity, the pandemic, and what is needed to move Africa forward.
“We are exploring ways to strengthen the health systems in Africa to prepare for future pandemics beyond COVID-19,” he said, adding that trade and investments must be enhanced between the continent’s countries.
He said the World Trade Organization’s ongoing negotiations for a temporary waiver of the trade-related aspects of the intellectual property rights agreement for the manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines are more critical at this point.
In the context of the WTO negotiations, Ramaphosa said, “this is where we really see that the interests of the richer countries are at stake, as they are only interested in the interests of their citizens, not the citizens of the entire world.”
It is anticipated that next year, South Africa and Senegal, which hosts the annual conference, will begin manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines.
Having said that, he stated that one of the challenges facing us as African nations is to drive a sustainable, inclusive recovery.
Meanwhile, President Macky Sall emphasized the need for international solidarity during these uncertain times.
In the face of the harmful effects of both the health and economic crisis, he said, the emergence of a new variant in several countries serves as a reminder that we are all at risk – and we must be resilient, determined, and combative as necessary, he said.
“In addition, Africa is also particularly vulnerable to climate change, the intensification of terrorist attacks, and coups d’états. The emergency is here.”
According to Sall, no nation, no government, no continent can ensure collective security, only international solidarity.
The environmental and health sectors, organized crime, piracy, cybercrime, migration, and all other cross-border problems will not be able to be solved by any one country alone, Sall said.
As a result, peace and security in Africa contribute to worldwide peace and security.