The African Union has called on countries to redouble efforts to silence the guns in Africa amid COVID-19 pandemic.
The call was made in a series of virtual conferences which commenced on May 25, 2020, in commemoration of Africa Day, and ended on June 8, 2020.
The meetings were convened by the Peace and Security Department in collaboration with the Department of Political Affairs of the African Union Commission.
They were aimed at highlighting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and related challenges in the implementation of the AU theme of the year: “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”.
In addition, AU said in a statement received by TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington D.C. that the series were further designed “to accentuate the necessity for partnership among Member States, Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms for Conflict Prevention, management and Resolution (RECs/RMs), United Nations (UN), civil society organizations (CSOs) and the private sector in the implementation of AU Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa (AUMR).”
The Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui, observed that “the threat posed by COVID-19 has considerably slowed the momentum of the silencing the guns agenda, and our intention is to further accelerate our collective efforts to end conflicts and crises in Africa, while expressing concern that terrorists and armed groups have failed to heed the calls of the AU and UN leadership for a global ceasefire”.
These factors have severely affected humanitarian access to conflict and crisis areas and limited the reach of support and relief efforts, exacerbating the dual impact of the conflict and the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic on the most vulnerable, namely refugees, internally displaced persons, returnees and migrants, as well as youth, women, children and the elderly, AU noted.
According to Ambassador Cessouma Minata Semate, Commissioner for Political Affairs emphasized, “a sustainable strategy to silence the guns must directly address the structural root causes of violent conflict in Africa, including governance deficits, as well as promote equitable management of natural resources for the overall benefit of the citizenry”.
AU said the Peace and Security Council (PSC), in the implementation of the theme of the year, has continued with virtual meetings on various conflict and crisis situations and thematic issues in relation to the AU’s efforts in silencing the guns in Africa within the context of COVID-19 pandemic.
It said participants in the series emphasised the ramifications of illicit inflows of small arms and light weapons into Africa; continued illicit circulation of these weapons within the continent; corruption, illicit financial inflows and governance deficits are among the factors contributing to both traditional and non- traditional threats to states and human security in the continent.
“Among the practical measures identified by participants of the series to further enhance existing measures for silencing the guns, are the necessity for country level strategies and actions, RECS/RMs appointment of envoys on silencing the guns, in line with the relevant AU Assembly decisions, mobilisation of the private sector for investment and job creation and establishment of an African Economic Forum under the umbrella of Agenda 2063, in order to further enhance the ongoing efforts to silence the guns and create conducive conditions for Africa’s development,” AU said.