Bridging the Gaps: Europe to Help Africa From Vaccines to Recovery as COVID-19 Aggravates Inequalities

Written by | Monday, April 12th, 2021

Governments across Africa have used pandemic measures to suppress their opponents and the media, Amnesty International, a UK-based non-governmental organization, found in its latest annual report released on Wednesday (7 April). The coronavirus pandemic has also exacerbated the impact of conflicts that are devastating some regions in Africa, the rights group warns. According to the report, the pandemic hit people shackled by oppression hardest thanks to decades of inequalities, neglect, and abuse. “The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the terrible legacy of deliberately divisive and destructive policies that have perpetuated inequality, discrimination, and oppression across Sub-Saharan Africa,” the report says.
African leaders’ pandemic policies are described here as “discriminatory” as they do not favor marginalized people such as women and refugees. While many African governments rolled out measures to prevent transmission, including distributing free tests and masks, according to the report, marginalized communities, particularly refugees, did not benefit from these relief measures. The report also highlights the pandemic’s impact on ongoing conflicts and unrest across the continent, notably in Mozambique’s troubled Cabo Delgado province and in the conflict regions of Nigeria and the Sahel. “In response, state security forces also committed grave human rights violations against civilians,” the report adds. To make things worse, many governments have used pandemic measures as an excuse to clamp down on their opponents, rights activists and journalists. Governments that used the pandemic to suppress dissent include those of Tanzania during October’s elections, Guinea, Niger, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Benin.
Meanwhile, as African governments are mobilizing to save millions of lives in the face of the coronavirus pandemic’s tremendous social and economic costs, the support of the European Union will be critical in insuring an equitable distribution of vaccines and a smooth post-pandemic recovery. To that end, President of the Global Alliance for Vaccines (Gavi), José Manuel Barroso, recently called on the EU to accelerate access to vaccines in developing countries by increasing multilateral contributions and donating excess doses through the Covax platform. “We have the capacity to distribute 1.8 billion vaccines to low-income countries to protect high-risk populations, but to achieve this goal we need $2 billion of additional funds,” said Barroso. “Additional contributions to Gavi and Covax are essential for the EU to show its leadership in global health, strengthen its support to Africa and boost international solidarity to control the pandemic,” the former president of the European Commission added.

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