UN condemns countries for placing travel restrictions against Africa

Secretary-General António Guterres: “The people of Africa cannot be blamed for the immorally low level of vaccinations available in Africa.

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL Antonio Guterres attends a session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on February 24. (photo credit: DENIS BALIBOUSE/REUTERS)
UN SECRETARY-GENERAL Antonio Guterres attends a session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on February 24.
(photo credit: DENIS BALIBOUSE/REUTERS)

UN Secretary-General António Guterres condemned countries, including Israel, who rolled out immediate travel bans against several African countries after the discovery of the Omicron variant.

“I am now deeply concerned about the isolation of southern African countries due to new COVID-19 travel restrictions,” Guterres said in a statement. “The people of Africa cannot be blamed for the immorally low level of vaccinations available in Africa – and they should not be penalized for identifying and sharing crucial science and health information with the world.

“I appeal to all governments to consider repeated testing for travelers, together with other appropriate and truly effective measures, with the objective of avoiding the risk of transmission so as to allow for travel and economic engagement,” he said.

Less than 6% of the population in African states has been inoculated, according to the latest reports. The low rate is fueled by a combination of a lack of vaccines and much of the African continent’s inability to store and deliver the vaccines it has.

Israel labeled 50 African states as red over the weekend and has banned all Israelis from traveling to those countries due to the Omicron variant. It also blocked all foreigners from entering Israel for at least two weeks.

A passenger tries to find a flight as several airlines have stopped flying out of South Africa, amidst the spread of the new SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron, at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, November 28, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/SUMAYA HISHAM)A passenger tries to find a flight as several airlines have stopped flying out of South Africa, amidst the spread of the new SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron, at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, November 28, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/SUMAYA HISHAM)

Other countries around the world followed suit, especially in the European Union.

“I commend the government and science and health community of South Africa for acting early to identify the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant,” Guterres concluded.