South Africa president: Travel restrictions imposed on African nations is hypocritical
South Africa's president said Monday that travel restrictions imposed on his country and other African nations for warning the world about the omicron variant are hypocritical, harsh and not supported by science.
Speaking at the Dakar International Forum for Peace and Security, President Cypril Ramaphosa recalled the phrase used by the U.N. chief, who called such measures “travel apartheid.”
Ramaphosa said the restrictions are punishing the very people and governments that helped inform the world of a new coronavirus variant.
“When South African scientists discovered omicron ... they immediately took on the responsibility of informing the world, the entire world, that a new variant is coming through. And what is the result?” he asked, replying that is was punishment.
Ramaphosa said such countries have resorted not to science but their own self-interests. “We say those bans must be removed with immediate effect,” he declared.
Ramaphosa said the travel restrictions affect struggling economies in the region that rely on tourism. The pandemic, access to vaccines and inequalities for the African continent were major points for the leader in addressing peace and security for the continent.
He spoke beside Senegalese President Macky Sall, Niger President Mohamed Bazoum and African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, among other world leaders, who addressed issues of insecurity, the pandemic and what is needed to move the continent forward.
“Beyond COVID-19, we are looking at how the continent of Africa can bolster its own health processes and systems so that we can withstand future pandemics,” he said, adding that trade and investments between African countries must be deepened.