Member states of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) have agreed to forge a joint approach to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Heads of States from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Sudan, Somalia and South Sudan held a teleconference on Monday.
They discussed the challenges that the region is facing in managing the global pandemic and tasked the IGAD Secretariat to urgently formulate a regional response.
The leaders also agreed to intensify information sharing including tracking of infected persons.
Further, the Heads of State agreed to direct their relevant agencies to enhance cooperation in border control and management, with a view of ensuring safety along common borders and guarantee movement of cargo.
The leaders appealed to the international community to provide support for vulnerable groups particularly refugees within IGAD countries and to support national efforts to ensure that humanitarian corridors remain open.
In addition, the Heads of State agreed to pursue joint mobilisation of financial resources from international institutions and partners.
They said the region needs resources to help in combating the virus as well as in mitigating the social-economic impact of the disease.
The leaders urged the private sector to contribute more to the fight against the infectious disease.
To mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic, the Heads of State tasked regional ministers of finance to carry out a comprehensive assessment with a view of establishing an IGAD emergency fund.
Further, the Heads of State tasked the IGAD secretariate to formulate appropriate response programmes that will be discussed by the leaders.
The leaders said the assessment will form the basis for joint engagement with international partners such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank Group, and the G20 for economic stimulus packages.
While briefing his counterparts on the measures Kenya is taking to curtail the spread of the virus, President Kenyatta stated the country’s willingness to assist regional nations that may require its support saying, it is imperative for IGAD countries to forge a common front against the global pandemic.
“My administration will do whatever is within its power and capacity to extend any support that our brothers and sisters in our neighboring countries might require,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta also briefed the leaders on the outcomes of a teleconference of the Bureau of the African Union Heads of State and Government held on 26th March.
One of the key outcomes of the meeting was the agreement to establish a continental anti-COVID-19 Africa Fund to which members of the Bureau agreed to immediately contribute US $12.5 million as seed funding.
The bureau also agreed to contribute a further US $4.5 million towards boosting the capacity of the African Union Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC).
On its part, Kenya pledged to contribute US$ 2 million and US$ 1 million to the Fund and the Africa CDC respectively.
President Kenyatta reminded IGAD member states to continue the fight against desert locust invasion even as they work to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.
He said the desert locust invasion risks plunging the region into a food crisis at a time when the world’s attention is focused on dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those who participated in the teleconference are the Chairperson of IGAD, who is also the Prime Minister of Sudan Abdalla Hamdok; President Yoweri Museveni (Uganda); President Ismail Omar Guelleh (Djibouti); Vice President Dr. Riek Machar (South Sudan) and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia.
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