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G7: EU to support COVID-19 vaccination strategies and capacity in Africa

EU Reporter Correspondent

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European Commission, President Ursula von der Leyen, has announced €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in Africa, which are spearheaded by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). Subject to the agreement of the budgetary authority, this funding will support the vaccination campaigns in countries with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems. The funding will, among others, contribute to ensuring the cold chains, roll-out registration programmes, training of medical and support staff as well as logistics. This sum comes on top of €2.2 billion provided by Team Europe to COVAX.

Ursula von der Leyen said: “We've always been clear that the pandemic won't end until everyone is protected globally. The EU stands ready to support the vaccination strategies in our African partners with experts and deliveries of medical supplies at the request of the African Union. We are also exploring potential support to boost local production capacities of vaccines under licensing arrangements in Africa. This would be the fastest way to ramp up production everywhere to the benefit of those that most need it.”

Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič said: “International vaccine solidarity is a must if we are to effectively address the COVID-19 pandemic. We are looking at ways to use our humanitarian aid and civil protection tools to help in the rollout of vaccination campaigns in Africa. Ensuring equitable access to vaccines for vulnerable people, including in hard-to-access areas, is a moral duty. We will build on our valuable experience in delivering humanitarian aid in a challenging environment, for example via the Humanitarian Air Bridge flights.”

International Partnerships Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen added: “Team Europe has stood by the side of our African partners from the onset of the pandemic and will continue to do so. We have already mobilised more than €8 billion to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa. We are strengthening health systems and preparedness capacities, which is absolutely key to ensure effective vaccination campaigns. And we are now exploring support through the new NDICI and how to leverage investments in the local production capacities through the External Action Guarantee.”

The EU also has a range of instruments at its disposal, such as the EU Humanitarian Air bridge, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, and the EU's humanitarian budget. These tools have been used extensively in the context of COVID-19 to deliver crucial material and logistical assistance to partners in Africa.

The Commission is also currently exploring opportunities to support African countries in the medium term to establish local or regional production capacity of health products, in particular vaccines and protective equipment. This support will come under the new Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) and the European Fund for Sustainable Development plus (EFSD+).

Background

The EU has been scaling up its humanitarian engagement in Africa since the onset COVID-19 crisis. A key of part of these efforts is the EU Humanitarian Air Bridge, which is an integrated set of services enabling the delivery of humanitarian assistance to countries affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The air bridge carries medical equipment, and humanitarian cargo and staff, providing humanitarian assistance for the most vulnerable populations where the pandemic imposes constraints on transport and logistics. The air bridge flights are fully funded by the EU. So far, almost 70 flights have delivered over 1,150 tons of medical equipment as well as nearly 1,700 medical and humanitarian staff and other passengers. Flights to Africa have aided the African Union, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan.

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Luanda should stop putting pressure on the legitimate government of the CAR and supporting the rebels

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After the military successes of the national army of the CAR in the fight against the armed groups’ militants, the idea of a dialogue with the rebels, put forward by CEEAC and ICGLR, looks absurd. Criminals and enemies of the peace must be arrested and brought to justice. Central African Republic President Faustin-Archange Touadera does not consider the option of negotiations with the armed groups who took up arms and acted against the people of the CAR. Meanwhile, on the Angolan side, Gilberto Da Piedade Verissimo, the president of the Economic Community of Central African States commission, stubbornly trying to start a dialogue with the leaders of armed groups who have formed the Coalition.

Under the guise of helping to resolve the Central African crisis, Angola is promoting its interests. President João Lourenço, António Téte (the minister of external relations who went to Bangui and then to N’Djamena), and Gilberto Da Piedade Verissimo, the president of the Economic Community of Central African States commission, are trying to open up a channel of communication between the different actors in Bangui. What is the role of Angola in resolving the security situation in the Central African Republic?

It is worth noting that Angola is the second oil producer in Africa, after Nigeria. Despite this fact, the country is in economic decline, but the president of the country and his elite have a large personal capital of unknown origin. There is rumor that the political elite has enriched itself over the past decade by shady arms deals with various terrorist groups from neighboring countries.

There is a strong possibility that the current Central African Government is not in a favorable mood for cooperation with Angola in the field of natural resources within the framework of CEEAC. Therefore, the benevolent and seeking help from all the former head of the CAR, Francois Bozize, could provide privileges for Angola. Otherwise, how else to explain the negotiations of the Angolan delegation with Jean-Eudes Teya, the secretary-general of Kwa na Kwa (the party of former President Francois Bozize).

One of the conditions proposed by the Coalition was the liberation of the CAR-Cameroon corridor. The fact is that the government forces already control this area and there is no need to negotiate with the militants. In addition, CAR population expresses its complete disagreement about the opening of a dialogue with the rebels. Over the past month, several rallies have been held in Bangui, where people chanted "no dialogue with the rebels": those who came out against the people of the CAR with weapons should be brought to justice.

The government, together with the support of the international community, is planning to restore State power throughout the country, and it is only a matter of time.

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A strategy not for Africa but with Africa

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“Unlike previous strategies, the new EU-Africa Strategy has been created not for Africa but with Africa, which is a true manifestation of close cooperation. For the European Union, the partnership with Africa should create an economic relationship that is based on equality, trust, shared values, and the genuine desire to build lasting relations. If Africa is doing well, Europe is doing well”, stated Janina Ochojska MEP ahead of today’s vote on the EU-Africa Strategy in Parliament's Development Committee, that she spearheaded on behalf of the EPP Group.

The Report being voted on is Parliament's response to the plans for a new, comprehensive EU-Africa Strategy, and to the upcoming EU-Africa Summit, planned later in 2021. The EPP Group wants an ambitious partnership, based on values and shared responsibilities, benefiting both Africa and the EU. "We need to engage in a true partnership with those countries who strive for good governance, respect the rule of law, democracy, human rights, peace and security", explained Ochojska.

Ochojska highlighted that every month, about one million Africans enter the local job markets while lacking education or skills to match demands. “Within the next 15 years, some 375 million young people are expected to reach working age. If we want to lift this continent out of poverty we need to empower young people by providing them with education, training and skills and prepare them for the new opportunities and challenges of tomorrow’s labour market. Human development and youth must be at the heart of this strategy”, she said.

Environmental crises and health are two other areas Parliament wants to prioritise in EU-Africa relations. "Migration and forced displacement triggered by climate change and environmental degradation will continue to pose both challenges and opportunities for the two continents. Well-managed migration and mobility can have a positive impact on countries of origin and destination”, concluded Ochojska.

The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 187 Members from all EU Member States

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Libyan strife: from armed conflict to political battle

Candice Musungayi

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The heat of the armed conflict in Libya between Faiz Sarraj's Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and the Libyan National Army (LNA) of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar was extinguished by the ceasefire agreement which was reached by parties in October 2020. Nevertheless, it is far from being peaceful in Libya – the struggle was inherently transformed into political battles.

On January 20, delegates from the Libyan House of Representatives and the High Council of State met in Egyptian Hurghada under the auspices of the UN and agreed to hold a referendum on the adoption of a new constitution.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry praised the results achieved during the second round of negotiations between the parties to the conflict in Libya.

“Egypt welcomes the agreement reached by the Libyan parties in Hurghada and appreciates the efforts that led to the agreement to hold a referendum on the draft constitution ahead of the Libyan elections to be held on 24 December,” said the Egyptian Foreign Ministry`s statement.

But there are other, much less optimistic opinions about the reached agreement. Several important amendments have already been adopted to the Libyan constitution, which completely changed the approach to the adoption of the new basic law of the state.

Thus, the seventh article was canceled, which stated that in each of the three historical regions of Libya - Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzane - the majority of citizens must vote “pro”. Otherwise, the draft constitution will not be adopted. Now the territorial location does not matter, which will affect the results of the expression of the people`s will.

Most of the population of Libya is concentrated in Tripolitania, so a referendum on the adoption of a new constitution will be reduced to voting in the territories controlled by the Government of National Accord. In this case, voters who live in eastern Libya or in the south of the country controlled by the LNA will not affect the outcome of the referendum, since their votes are in the minority.

For example, in the previous version of the law, residents of Benghazi, Tobruk and other cities in Cyrenaica could block the draft constitution if they voted “con” by a majority. However, the House of Representatives canceled the article, which deprived the Libyans of this opportunity.

Thus, the concerned parties accelerated the adoption of the country's basic law, since they deprived the minority of the right to veto it. In addition, the amendments have reduced the political weight of the Cyrenaica and Fezzan regions.

There are several figures among Libyan officials who might have possibly influenced the adoption of the amendments to the constitution. In particular, experts in the Libyan media call names of the chairman of Libya’s High Council of State Khalid al-Mishri and the speaker of Tobruk based House of Representatives Aguila Saleh.

Noteworthy, neither Mishri nor Saleh has an impeccable reputation. Both of them were reportedly involved in criminal activities and corruption schemes. According to the Secretary General of the National Anti-Corruption Agency Akram Bennur, Aguila Saleh should be deprived of diplomatic immunity to initiate an investigation on the abuse of power and numerous financial frauds. The chairman of the High Council of State and, simultaneously, a member of the terrorist group “Muslim Brotherhood” Khalid al-Mishri, among other things, was caught trying to blackmail employees of the Foundation for National Values Protection after the kidnapping of Russian sociologist Maxim Shugaley and his interpreter Samer Sueyfan in Tripoli.

There is speculation that Khalid al-Mishri and Aguila Saleh can be involved into embezzlement of the funds allocated for the holding of the new constitution`s referendum. These Lybian officials are also suspected in developing a campaign to support their idea on postponing of the referendum for as long as possible. The reason is obvious – the later referendum will be hold, the more chances to shift the date of the presidential elections which were originally scheduled for December 24, 202. Thus, every opportunity is exploited to shift the moment of the power`s handover in the country.

 

 

 

 

 

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