Category Archives: EU-Africa

Omicron: EU lifts SA travel restrictions

Brussels 10.01.2022 European Union member states have agreed to lift the travel ban on flights to southern African countries, which will allow more voyages to resume.

The decision lifts the so-called emergency brake introduced in November, France, which holds the rotating EU presidency, informed in Tweet micro blog. Travellers from the region will still be subject to health measures applicable to travellers from third countries.

European nations had suspended most air travel from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe as the WHO and scientists were in process to assess the severity of the omicron variant. The bloc maintained the limits even after cases continued to surge around the world, despite an outcry from the region.

Ethiopia: Borrell welcomes opposition leaders release

Brussels 10.01.2022 “The release of some political opposition leaders and the establishment of the National Dialogue Commission are positive steps towards ending the ongoing conflict in Northern Ethiopia. The European Union has always stressed that the only option for a peaceful and long lasting solution is an independent, comprehensive and inclusive National Dialogue that leaves no one behind” reads the statement by the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell (pictured) on the latest developments.

“However, despite these positive steps, the conflict continues, including an airstrike today hitting a camp for internally displaced people killing and wounding many civilians. Immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access must be allowed to save lives, as no trucks carrying humanitarian assistance has entered Tigray since mid-December”.

“All parties must seize the moment to swiftly end the conflict and enter into dialogue. The EU stands ready to work with the African Union, the United Nations, and other international partners to support this process”.

EU additional €15M aid to Sahel

Brussels 23.12.2021 The EU has allocated €15 million in additional humanitarian funding to Africa’s Sahel region, in response to the unprecedented food crisis affecting more than 8.7 million people in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Mauritania.

Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said “Earlier this year, the EU reaffirmed its commitment to the Sahel region, and reiterated the importance of our partnership with the region. The additional humanitarian aid allocated today is an indication of our readiness to help meet the growing needs – and funding shortfalls – in Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, and provide assistance to the most vulnerable members of the population in the Sahel.”

The number of people suffering from the food crisis in Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali and Mauritania is at a record high compared to previous years and initial estimates point to a major food crisis during the 2022 lean season, the period between harvests that usually lasts from May to August. The World Food Programme (WFP) reports critical funding gaps affecting its ability to assist people during the lean season in the Sahel.

The funding announced today comes on top of €54 million already allocated this year to these four Sahel countries for food/nutrition. The additional funds allocated by the EU will contribute to scaling up life-saving assistance for the most vulnerable people in need, mainly people affected by conflict and insecurity and those forced to flee their homes. This funding will address most acute needs in food and nutrition and will contribute to an early response to reduce the impact of a major humanitarian crisis in 2022.

Humanitarian needs in the Sahel region (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Nigeria) are rising due to increasingly violent conflicts, deep poverty, climate change, and unprecedented food insecurity and malnutrition. In addition to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, weak health systems are increasingly strained, and humanitarian needs are growing.

In 2021, the EU allocated a total of €237.4 million to the Sahel. Part of this funding has been used to help tackle the food crisis in the region, now in its fourth consecutive year, mainly affecting people in conflict-hit areas. EU humanitarian assistance supports people affected by conflict and insecurity, providing them with shelter, emergency food and nutritional aid, access to health care and clean water, to treatment for malnourished children, and protection for the vulnerable. In addition, EU funding ensures safe access to education for the children affected by armed conflicts.

In 2021, prior to the allocation of this additional funding, the funding allocated to these four countries for food/nutrition was:

– Burkina Faso:€19.7 million

– Mali:€15 million

– Mauritania:€6.9 million

– Niger:€12.3 million

Ghana President addresses Europarliament

Strasbourg 15.12.2021 President Nana Akufo-Addo called for a more equal trade relationship with Europe that would empower African countries to build their economies and move beyond development aid. The Ghana leader addressed the Members of the European Parliament at the last calendar Plenary in Strasbourg on December 14.

During a formal sitting on Tuesday, Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo expressed his hope that the EU and the African Union can work on a joint strategy and define a new partnership. African countries should not be just a receiver of help from Europe, but they should sit side by side at the decision making table as equals.

He stressed that investing in Africa and helping it develop its economy would bring huge export opportunities for European companies. “We need to rely on ourselves and get rid of the image of beggars living on charity, aid and handouts, and make better and more intelligent use of our abundant national resources to pull ourselves out of poverty and into prosperity”, said President Akufo-Addo.

Talking about the COVID-19 pandemic, President Akufo-Addo noted that Africa has been caught in “vicious vaccine politics”. While stressing that Africa is grateful for vaccine donations through systems such as Covax, he pointed to the “unsavoury politics of vaccine nationalism” that could restrict access and potentially derail efforts to contain the pandemic.

On the subject of migration, President Akufo-Addo said that instead of investing money in preventing migrants from coming from Africa to Europe, funding would be better spent in supporting the African economy and encouraging people to stay at home by offering them economic opportunity.

EU: South Africa in view

Brussels 13.12.2021 Today the Foreign affairs ministers will hold a comprehensive discussion on EU-Africa relations, touching on the overall situation on the continent and the challenges it faces in fields such as: security, development, demographic growth, health, democratic evolution, and engagement at a multilateral level.

South Africa’s president has condemned travel bans enacted against his country and its neighbours over the new coronavirus variant Omicron.

Cyril Ramaphosa said he was “deeply disappointed” by the action, which he described as unjustified, and called for the bans to be urgently lifted.

The UK, EU and US are among those who have imposed travel bans.

As nearly two years of restrictions have impacted South Africa’s travel and hospitality sector, the industry and travellers need clarity on what to expect over the key festive season, says Euan McNeil, managing director of the Flight Centre Travel Group.

In an open letter addressed to president Cyril Ramaphosa, McNeil said that a lack of certainty around the level of restrictions – and when they could be introduced – meant many prospective travellers were not making holiday plans.

“We have been here before. December 2020 brought with it beach bans, stricter curfews and alcohol bans. Six months later, during our third wave largely driven by the Delta variant, leisure travel to and from Gauteng was prohibited.

“Over the past 20 months of navigating the catastrophic impacts of Covid-19, the tourism and travel industry has suffered the collateral damage of these regulations aimed at stemming the spread of Covid-19.”

On Thursday (10 December), South Africa reported 22,391 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 3,093,452.

Deaths have reached 90,060 (+22), while recoveries have climbed to 2,870,329, leaving the country with a balance of 133,063 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 26,917,603 (+135,961).

Omicron: AU calls to lift travel restrictions

Brussels 08.12.2021 The African Union called for an urgent end to travel restrictions imposed on some of its member states, saying the measures effectively penalise governments for timely data sharing in line with international health regulations.

The measures act “as a disincentive for information sharing in the future, potentially posing a threat to health security on the continent and globally,” the AU said in a statement.

Late last month, European Union states, the United States and Britain, among other nations such as Israel, imposed travel curbs on seven southern African countries after they reported several cases of the Omicron variant, which is considered highly infectious.

The Gambia: EU awaits EOM report

Brussels 08.12.2021 “The Gambia conducted Presidential elections on 4 December. The European Union welcomes the calm, peaceful, and transparent manner in which the elections were conducted. The high voter turnout shows the commitment of the Gambian people to the democratic path that they have taken since December 2016”.

“The EU expects all the candidates to act in good faith, and urges all to comply with the rule of law and to use the available legal procedures if they deem necessary to challenge election outcomes”.

“The EU deployed for the first time an Election Observation Mission (EOM) to observe a presidential election. The preliminary statement of the EU EOM issued on 6 December 2021 shows where reforms are needed. We look forward to its final report that will be made public at the end of the process, including recommendations for future electoral processes”.

The EU looks forward to continuing its close cooperation with The Gambia on the path of democratic reform and national reconciliation.

EU proposes ban on South Africa flights

Brussels 26.11.2021 Concerns over a new COVID-19 variant detected in South Africa have caused new wave of travel restrictions in Italy and Germany on Friday, November 26, as Brussels demands the EU-wide flight restrictions. (Image: illustration).

The European Commission will propose to suspend air travel from southern Africa amid concerns over this particular variant, EC President Ursula Von der Leyen announced on Friday.

The proposal could be enacted in urgent procedures on Friday night, November 26.

Germany, Italy and France have already announced measures to restrict air travel from the region.

Rome has banned entry on its territory to anyone who has stayed in southern Africa during fortnight, said health minister Roberto Speranza, invoking “maximum precaution” in the face of the new variant.

The countries targeted by this measure are South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini, the Minister has underlined.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Friday, November 26, airlines coming from South Africa will only be able to transport German citizens, meaning only repatriations will be possible.

South Africa, like much of the region, has suffered through three significant pandemic waves since the beginning. While the number of new infections across the country is now still relatively low and positivity levels are under 5%, public health officials have already predicted a fourth wave because of the mutations of the virus alike the one they have discovered now.

During a news briefing, South African genomic scientists said the variant has an unusually high number of mutations, with more than 30 in the key spike protein, which is the structure the virus uses to get into the cells they attack.

MEPs address Somalia crisis

Strasbourg 26.11.2021 The European parliament expresses its grave concern at the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Somalia. MEPs condemn all violations and abuses of human rights and indiscriminate attacks on civilians, humanitarian workers, journalists, election officials and the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) by terrorist groups, notably Al-Shabaab.

The resolution recalls that lasting stability and peace in Somalia can only be achieved through social inclusion and good governance. It calls, therefore, on the country’s leaders to step up efforts to complete the country’s electoral process and finish holding inclusive and credible elections for the Lower House of Parliament before the end of this year. The longer the election process is delayed, the more resources will be diverted away from important national priorities, such as responding to the humanitarian emergencies, MEPs point out.

Somalia is on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe, with an estimated 5.9 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and over 2.7 million facing emergency levels of food insecurity across the country, MEPs note. They call on the EU, its member states and international partners to urgently increase humanitarian assistance and provide additional assistance to the country’s COVID-19 response, in particular through vaccine sharing and the provision of essential medical supplies.

The text was adopted by 625 votes in favour, 6 against and 55 abstentions.

Cameroon: MEPs concern about human rights

Strasbourg 26.11.2021 MEPs are deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Cameroon. The adopted European Parliament resolution notes that the country is facing a number of political and security challenges simultaneously, including threats from terrorist group Boko Haram in its Far North region and an internal armed separatist rebellion, which has been ongoing for almost five years in its Anglophone Northwest and Southwest regions. The latter conflict between militias and state authorities has so far killed thousands of people, witnessed heinous abuses, and led to a full-blown humanitarian crisis in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions.

Parliament urges both the Cameroonian government and the political and military leaders of separatist groups to agree on a humanitarian ceasefire and encourages the parties to the conflict to agree on confidence-building measures, such as freeing non-violent political prisoners and lifting school boycotts. MEPs call on President Paul Biya’s government and the Anglophone separatists to immediately re-initiate peace talks, while pleading for the international community, especially the African Union, Central African states and the EU, to help facilitate dialogue by offering to take on a mediation role.

The resolution also calls on the Cameroonian authorities to stop bringing people to trial before military tribunals, in particular civilians, predetermining outcomes and imposing the death penalty, which is unlawful under international human rights law. MEPs remind Cameroon that it must uphold the right of all citizens to a fair trial before independent courts of law and recall that military courts should not have jurisdiction over the civilian population.

The text was adopted by 614 votes in favour, 32 against and 40 abstentions.

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