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China Daily Global / 2021-05 / 21 / Page001

UN calls for efforts to aid Africa's development

By ZHANG YUNBI | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-05-21 00:00

After a high-level meeting hosted by China, the United Nations Security Council has spoken in one voice, urging the international community to give Africa equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and medical supplies.

Council members agreed on facilitating the transfer of vaccine-related technologies and their intellectual property rights.

They also emphasized the need to address the fundamental causes and drivers of conflicts in Africa and empower the continent's sustainable growth, according to a statement issued after the high-level council meeting on Wednesday.

Less than 2 percent of the 1.4 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses administered around the world have reached Africa, and some nations on the continent are faced with the repercussions of conflicts as a result.

The videoconference was chaired by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and attended by dozens of leaders and senior diplomats to focus on global efforts to boost Africa's peace and security during and after the pandemic.

African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat warned at the meeting that "the biggest challenge Africa is facing is the vaccine issue" and "it is a very big mistake to think the world will be secure while the African continent is still lacking protection against the virus and its variants".

"On the political front, there have been challenges in sustaining the necessary political processes for implementing transitions and peace agreements on the ground to avoid the collapse of many African nations," he added.

On behalf of China, which takes the Security Council's presidency this month, Wang made a four-point proposal that aims to help Africa overcome disparities in the virus fight, mitigate its deficit in peace, narrow the gaps in economic development and correct unfairness in global governance.

In particular, Wang highlighted the role of international organizations such as the UN in coordinating improvement in public health, rolling out peacekeeping, promoting cease-fires and boosting African countries' say in world affairs.

He warned against unreasonable interference imposed by forces from outside the continent upon African nations, and asked developed countries to fulfill their duties and take tangible steps toward debt reduction and exemptions, development aid and technology transfer.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the meeting that the pandemic crisis is "feeding many of these drivers of conflict and instability".

He warned of the "severe economic fallout of the pandemic", citing predictions that Africa's economic growth this year may be 3.4 percent, compared with 6 percent globally.

Wang also revealed China and Africa are willing to jointly launch a partnership initiative to support Africa's development in the face of the once-in-a-century pandemic.

According to the initiative, the international community is expected to beef up support in areas such as fighting the pandemic, post-pandemic reconstruction, trade and investment, debt relief, food security, poverty reduction and alleviation, coping with climate change, as well as industrialization.

"China welcomes more countries and international organizations, especially Africa's traditional cooperation partners, to join this initiative," Wang said.

A survey conducted in 18 African countries by Afrobarometer, a pan-African research institute, showed that 60 percent of Africans believe China's economic and political influence on the continent is positive.

At a summit on Tuesday initiated by France to boost financing for Africa, Vice-Premier Han Zheng called for resuming development momentum in Africa in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as promoting win-win cooperation for its economic recovery.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Thursday China has always been a staunch supporter of Africa in "its virus fight, a proactive participant for its growth and prosperity, and an effective vanguard of its peace and stability".

"We would like to weather the storm and stay in the same boat with our African brothers, join hands with international partners for cooperation and play a positive role in promoting Africa's peace and security," he added.


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