Reuters Published February 18, 2022 –
BRUSSELS: Sierra Leone’s leader challenged Europeans on Thursday to remember there are “human beings on the other side” in Africa who have been left behind in the unequal global response to Covid-19.
By the start of February, only 11 percent of Africans were fully vaccinated against the coronavirus – far fewer than in richer parts of the world where vast and expensive inoculation campaigns have reached most of their populations.
“We feel left out,” President Julius Maada Bio said in his speech at the European Union-African Union summit. “So at a meeting like this we really want to ask these critical questions. Are we equal partners in this? Do we consider there are human beings on the other side?” Many developing countries have called for intellectual property rights for Covid vaccines and treatments to be waived, but face opposition from rich nations, including many in the EU.
Bio said the pandemic was making it harder for already debt-laden African governments to provide for their people’s social needs and was also undermining security. “It undermines African governments, it makes us look as if we don’t care for our people and this has security implications,” he said.
Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2022