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African ministers allege apartheid in COVID-19 vaccine distribution

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African Ministers of Tourism have accused the western world of “apartheid” in its Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine diplomacy and distribution.

The ministers adopted the position at the on-going 64th Conference of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) – Conference for Africa, and second edition of UNWTO Global Tourism Investment Forum.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed is leading the Nigeria delegation to the event holding in Sal Island, Cape Verde.

Speaking with NAN after a closed-door meeting of the ministers, Mohammed said:

“It has now become the position of CAF of UNWTO that vaccines nationalism is hampering African tourism and as such those who are in possession of these vaccines should look more into equitable distribution.

“The issue of vaccines diplomacy was also addressed and it was the consensus of the African ministers that it is another form of apartheid.

“This is because, it is discriminatory if you don’t give us enough vaccines in Africa and you said we cannot enter Europe, whereas you open the gate to others.”

According to the minister, many African countries have been denied access to COVID-19 vaccines which are aimed at achieving WHO’s prescribed 70 per cent health immunity for their populations.

He gave the example of Nigeria where less than five million people have so far been vaccinated from a population of over 120 million.

The minister said it was unfair for a country to have excess vaccines and yet refuse to “make them available for those who do not have enough.”

“What we are witnessing in Africa today is that while we are struggling to vaccinate even five per cent of our population, other parts of the world are even thinking of the third booster dose.

“More discriminatory and painful is the fact that most African countries, despite the low number of infected people have been put on the red list.

“Nigeria, for instance, has been put on the amber list by the UK which is quite vexing in the sense that the first two million doses of vaccine that was administered in the country was developed in the UK.

“The implication of this is that even after I have taken the two doses of the vaccine, if I want to travel to the UK today, I will have to undergo 10-days mandatory isolation.

“But if the Dutch and the French who have taken the same two doses want to travel to the UK, they will not undergo any isolation,’’ he said.

The minister said the conference also adopted the complaints on the unfair issuance of travel advisory by the western world anytime there was a problem in Africa.

“At the slightest struck of any catastrophe in Africa, they start issuing travel advisory warning people, especially tourists, against going to Africa.

“But when there is a similar or even more severe occurrence in the western world, such travel advisory is not issued,’’ he said.

Mohammed disclosed that the conference agreed to set up a high level committee to present the positon of the ministers to the AU for further action.

He said the committee would be led by Mr Siandou Pofana, the Ivorian Minister of Tourism and Leisure who emerged as the UNWTO-CAF President, and the Secretary-General of UNWTO, Mr Zurab Pololikasvili.

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