U.S. top lawmaker on Africa Karen Bass introduces resolution calling for international action to fight COVID–19 across Africa

Congressmember Karen Bass (D-CA), Chair of the United States House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on Africa, on Wednesday, introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives calling for a renewed, decisive, and robust international collaboration and coordination to fight COVID–19 across Africa.

“Shortly after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, doomsday scenarios were predicted for the African continent,” said Rep. Karen Bass. “While Africa defied the COVID-19 nightmare scenarios, the toll of the pandemic on the continent, which has now surpassed 100,000 deaths, should not be ignored. Renewed, strategic, respectful, and focused approach to U.S. policy toward Africa will lay the foundation for long-term post-COVID-19 recovery. We must seize this renewed sense of urgency to create momentum around African-designed and led sustainable strategies that will increase its resilience to the next global challenge and contribute to its prosperity. For that reason I am introducing this resolution encouraging collaboration and coordination to fight COVID–19 across Africa and I hope my Republican and Democrat colleagues alike will join me in this effort.”

The resolution expressed that the United States House of Representatives reaffirms that decreasing the spread of COVID-19 in Africa is in the national interest of the United States; calls on the international community to ensure equitable global distribution of personal protective equipment to keep African healthcare workers safe; and urges African governments to prioritize education, including by strengthening electrification infrastructure, internet access, and technology to advance and facilitate learning amid the challenges posed by COVID-19.

The resolution by Karen Bass was introduced after multiple witnesses told the United States House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa that the coronavirus pandemic is greatly impacting the continent of Africa on multiple fronts, and that more U.S. aid is needed.

Witnesses at the hearing included Kip E. Tom, who served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture and the U.S. Ambassador to the Rome-based U.N. Agencies. Others were John N. Nkengasong, the Director of Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Donald Kaberuka, a Special Envoy for the African Union.

The Congressional hearing provided an informative look into the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The swift response by many countries that decreased the death toll of the pandemic was praised overall. The challenges ahead were described to be economic. The economic toll on the continent is perhaps the worst overall economic shock to the continent in modern history. The reduction, lack, and decrease in funding will have consequences for decades to come. The House Foreign Affairs Committee serves as a major step in establishing comprehensive aid packages to ensure a return to growth.

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