UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said African countries needed to take difficult decisions to stop the coronavirus pandemic in the continent.
Mr Guterres stated this in an article titled “Global Solidarity with Africa is an Imperative”, published on the UN news website on Wednesday.
“Many difficult decisions will need to be taken as the pandemic unfolds, and it will be essential to retain the trust and participation of citizens throughout.
“These are still early days for the pandemic in Africa, and disruption could escalate quickly,” he said.
The Secretary-General stated that although the continent had responded swiftly to the pandemic and reported fewer cases than feared, “much hangs in the balance”.
According to him, vigilance and preparedness are important, with no fewer than 2,500 lives already claimed by the disease in Africa.
He warned that the virus was a threat to recent progress in the continent in the areas of economic growth, digital revolution and the free trade area agreement.
He predicted that the pandemic would “aggravate long-standing inequalities and heighten hunger, malnutrition and vulnerability to disease”.
Mr Guterres said: “Already, demand for Africa’s commodities, tourism and remittances are declining.
“The opening of the trade zone has been pushed back and millions could be pushed into extreme poverty.
“I commend what African countries have done already, together with the African Union.
“Most have moved rapidly to deepen regional coordination, deploy health workers, and enforce quarantines, lockdowns and border closures.
“They are also drawing on the experience of HIV/AIDS and Ebola to debunk rumours and overcome mistrust of government, security forces and health workers.”
The UN Chief expressed his “total solidarity” with the people and governments of Africa in tackling COVID-19.
He also reiterated his call for global support to the continent in terms financial aid and comprehensive debt relief, among others.
“It will also be essential for African countries to sustain their efforts to silence the guns and address violent extremism – and I welcome African support for my call for a global ceasefire.
“Political processes and elections in the coming months offer potential milestones for stability and peace.
“Women will be central to every aspect of the response. Stimulus packages must prioritise putting cash in the hands of women and increasing social protection.
“We must empower African youth. The human rights of all must be respected,” he said.