UNITED NATIONS, May 26 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called for solidarity with Africa in the fight against COVID-19 and recovery from the pandemic.
"We need to move toward sustainable economic growth that protects the environment, promotes human rights and strengthens the social contract. And we need a stronger sense of solidarity and multilateral cooperation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind. Now for that to be possible, we also need to express a very clear solidarity with the African continent in this dramatic moment in which we are still under the terrible impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," he told the opening of the Africa Dialogue Series 2021, a series of high-level public policy debates.
It is totally unacceptable that vaccines are not now fully available to the African continent, that Africa is dramatically lagging behind in vaccination, said Guterres. "I do believe that vaccines must be affordable and available everywhere."
That is why he has been insisting with the Group of 20 countries to create a global vaccination plan and to create an emergency task force for that purpose, he explained.
Vaccination is very important but not enough. African countries need financial support to relaunch their economies, said Guterres.
International Monetary Fund (IMF) predictions that sub-Saharan Africa will grow only three-plus percent in 2021, compared with 6 percent for the global economy, are worrisome, he said.
It is absolutely essential that African countries receive the financial support they need at the present moment to protect their citizens and to be able to relaunch their economies. The IMF Special Drawing Rights should be put at the disposal of the African continent. Effective debt relief, not only for least developed countries but for all developing countries and middle-income countries that need it, must be put at the disposal of African countries, he said.
"I believe that development requires conditions to be successful, and two basic conditions today are to support Africa for effective vaccination and support Africa to relaunch its economies and to have a sustainable and inclusive recovery," said Guterres.