United Nations, May 19
India said on Wednesday that it has stood by Africa amid the COVID-19 outbreak and supplied medicines, vaccines and health-related equipment to over 40 African nations during the crisis, underscoring that New Delhi will be Africa's "reliable partner" in fighting the pandemic.
"Like the rest of the world, Africa too is being tested by the Covid-19 pandemic. Its vulnerabilities are greater and in many respects, its capabilities are still in the making," External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said at the UN Security Council Open Debate on ‘Peace and Security in Africa: addressing root causes of conflict while promoting post-pandemic recovery in Africa'.
The debate, held under the Council Presidency of China, was presided over by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
"The world must stand by Africa in this crisis. On its part, India has done so by supplying medicines, vaccines and health-related equipment to 42 African countries. We are also working in partnership with South Africa and others to address the challenges of accessibility and affordability of vaccines," Jaishankar said.
He underlined India's support to peacebuilding in Africa, establishing capabilities and capacities that help meet challenges while ensuring progress.
"Most of all, we understand and empathize with the aspirations of Africa. That is why India will support peace and security there, help address root causes of conflict and be a reliable partner in fighting the pandemic,” he said.
Jaishankar noted that like the rest of the world, Africa too faces problems of terrorism and instability. "It is a reminder to this Council why epicentres of radicalisation must not be allowed to operate with impunity." He told the Council that India's support to Africa is expressed through its peacekeeping presence in South Sudan, Somalia, Abeyi, Western Sahara and Democratic Republic of Congo. "We endorse the call of the Secretary General for a mandate under Chapter VII to support African counter-terrorism operations with sustained financing, including through assessed contributions." Beyond the pandemic, Jaishankar said Africa's recovery will be facilitated by partnerships that genuinely address its economic sustainability. India's approach was spelt out by the Kampala Principles enunciated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018.
"In effect, India will respond to the priorities of Africa, as defined by Africans themselves. Our support is without conditionalities and in line with African expectations,” he said, adding that India's support is visible in its 189 projects in 41 African countries being implemented under concessional loans.
India's support to Africa also encompasses providing medicines, health equipment, ambulances, books, vehicles and food grains and is visible through vocational training and IT centres set up in Africa, through the 43,000 education and training slots over the last five years, or the digital education and health programmes with 17 African partners.
"Our trade and technology exchanges are steadily growing, in line with closer political and people-to-people ties. Whether it is debt relief or climate change, we treat Africa's challenges as our own,” he said.
Jaishankar underlined the strong and deep solidarity between India and Africa, saying it reflects the bonding of the Global South.
While New Delhi's close collaboration is expressed through the India-Africa Forum Summit, in the G77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, Jaishankar said the close ties are more evident in the United Nations itself than elsewhere.
Jaishankar added that bilaterally, India has partnered in the establishment of defence institutions in Nigeria, Ethiopia and Tanzania and its training teams have been deployed in Botswana, Namibia, Uganda, Lesotho, Zambia, Mauritius, Seychelles and Tanzania. — PTI
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