AU urges equitable vaccine access, debt relief for COVID-19 affected members

ADDIS ABABA, JANUARY 30: Participants are seen during the 28th African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 30, 2016. (Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Expressing deep concern over the devastation and economic crisis caused by the current COVID-19 pandemic to the African Union (AU) members, AU Peace and Security Council has urged the international community for debt relief, cancellation and restructuring.

In its latest meeting the Council has called for measures, particularly, for those countries that have been doubly affected by the scourge of conflict, terrorism and violent extremism, economic sanctions, displacement owing to climate change and natural disasters, according to an AU statement on Tuesday.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the African continent reached 3,583,054 as of Tuesday, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

The Council has called for debt relief and related measures by the international community aimed at increasing liquidity taking into consideration the unique circumstances of the members who have lost revenues and existing reserves to respond to COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting socio-economic challenges.

The Council has called for the unconditional lifting of economic sanctions imposed on African countries to pave the way for economic recovery.

It has also expressed grave concerns over the observed trends of ‘vaccine nationalism’ threatening to exclude low-income countries thus endangering the socio-economic recovery of affected members.

The Council has, therefore, called for universal, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines to ensure that all countries are accommodated.

It has urged that support be provided to middle-income economies on the Continent who are hosting many economic migrants.

On Saturday, the Africa CDC had disclosed that the ongoing second wave COVID-19 infections could be associated with the emergence of variants that are more transmissible.

At least 40 countries have experienced a second wave of the pandemic as of January 27, including all countries in the Southern Africa region, the Africa CDC said.