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Countries urged to reconsider travel restrictions

2021-06-24  Albertina Nakale

Countries urged to reconsider travel restrictions
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The SADC extraordinary summit has called upon countries that may be limiting the region’s residents to travel to their countries based on origin and type of vaccines taken, to reconsider their positions. 

The SADC heads of state convened a meeting yesterday in Maputo, Mozambique to discuss issues of regional integration, cooperation and development. 

Filipe Nyusi, president of Mozambique, chaired the meeting.

This appeal forms part of deliberations yesterday as the summit made a call to consider the regional response to the security situation in Mozambique. 

As the region’s coronavirus cases spiral, countries across the world have imposed fresh restrictions on travellers’ areas identified as “high risks countries or areas with variants of concern”.

Namibia, among other African nations, has been considered as an area of concern as of Sunday 20 June 2021. 

It has also been classified as a high incidence area since 13 June 2021, while receiving basic risk area status since 14 February 2021. 

To make matters worse, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) suspended travellers from Namibia, Liberia, and Sierra Leone from entering that country on national and foreign flights, effective as of Monday (June 21). 

Namibia has been classified as one of the many African countries where there is growing concern over Covid-19 variants. 

Thus far, two Covid-19 variants, B.1.351 from South Africa and United Kingdom’s B.1.1.7 have already been confirmed in Namibia.  

Health ministry executive director Ben Nangombe confirmed that government did not yet find the deadly delta (Indian) variant in Namibia.  The extraordinary summit also considered the Covid-19 pandemic situation in the region, and urged member states to continue to strengthen national response mechanisms. 

By the beginning of May 2021, the majority of southern African countries, with the exception of Mauritius and Seychelles, had not fully vaccinated even one percent of their populations against Covid-19.  The sub-region has entered a particularly perilous stage of the pandemic with the arrival of the Indian and UK variants having been confirmed. 

However, SADC, comprising 16 southern African member states, has been criticised for providing no meaningful guidance to accelerate this sluggish rollout. 

The summit held a moment of silence in recognition of the passing of Kenneth Kaunda, first president of Zambia, John Pombe Magufuli, former president of Tanzania, and Ambros Ndlamini, the former prime minister of Eswatini.  

The food security situation in the region and rainfall situation during the 2020-21-crop season was also discussed, including the infestation of the African migratory locusts. 

The summit commemorated the 40th anniversary of SADC, and on this occasion, pre-recorded messages of goodwill from Kaunda, and the Founding President of Namibia, Sam Nujoma were played.

The meeting of the SADC standing committee of senior officials started on Monday, followed by another one of the SADC council of ministers on Tuesday.

2021-06-24  Albertina Nakale

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