Africa Day: UN Scribe calls for ceasefires to halt COVID-19 spread

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The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Gutteres, has called on African countries to declare ceasefires in existing conflicts to enable the fight against the Coronavirus.

In a message to mark Africa Day hed each 25th of May, he commended the African Union’s support for a global ceasefire to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Armed groups in Cameroon, Sudan and South Sudan have responded to the call and declared unilateral ceasefires. I implore other armed movements and governments in Africa to do likewise. I also welcome the support of African countries for my call for peace in the home, and an end to all forms of violence, including against women and girls.

“About 20 African countries are scheduled to hold elections this year, some of which will be postponed due to the pandemic, with potential consequences for stability and peace. I urge African political actors to engage in inclusive and sustained political dialogue to ease tensions around elections and uphold democratic practices, ” he said.

The United Nations had recently issued a policy brief outlining the impact of the pandemic on Africa.

He re-stated his commitment to debt relief and action to maintain food supplies, protect jobs and cushion the continent against lost income and export earnings.

“African countries, like everyone, everywhere, should also have quick, equal and affordable access to any eventual vaccine and treatment. African governments, like all those around the world, can also use this moment to shape new policies that bolster health systems, improve social protection and pursue climate-friendly pathways.  

“Targeting measures to those employed in the informal sector, the vast majority of whom are women, will be an important step to recovery, as will leveraging women’s full participation and leadership.  The inclusion and leadership of young people will also be crucial every step of the way, ” he added.

The UN Secretary-General said African countries had demonstrated commendable leadership through a swift and coordinated response.

“The AU established a task force to develop a continent-wide strategy and appointed special envoys to mobilize international support. Its Peace and Security Council has also taken steps to counter the negative impact of COVID-19 on the implementation of critical peace agreements and reconciliation efforts.

“The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention established a response fund, while African Member States undertook robust measures to contain the spread of the virus and mitigate the socio-economic impacts.

“On Africa Day, I reaffirm my total solidarity with the people and Governments of Africa in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and paving the way for recovery and a better future for all, ” Gutteres concluded.

The African Union’s 2020 theme for Africa Day is: “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development.”