World Health Organization congratulates President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris

The World Health Organization (WHO) has congratulated the United States President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

“Congratulations to President-elect @JoeBiden & Vice President-Elect @KamalaHarris! My @WHO colleagues and I look forward to working with you and your teams,” tweeted the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Crises like the #COVID19 pandemic show the importance of global solidarity in protecting lives and livelihoods. Together!”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization speaks during a news conference on updates regarding on the novel coronavirus COVID-19, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland earlier this month (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP) 
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization speaks during a news conference on updates regarding on the novel coronavirus COVID-19, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland earlier this month (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

Almost 50 million cases of COVID-19 have now been reported to WHO, and more than 1.2 million people have lost their lives, the WHO Director General said on Monday in remarks at the World Health Assembly.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added that millions more have died due to disruption of essential health services.

Biden plans to rejoin the World Health Organization on day one, and repeal President Trump’s so-called Muslim travel ban that affected several countries in Africa, people close to him have said.

TRUMP AND WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION

President Trump announced his decision to leave the World Health Organization on May 29, claiming that the WHO was slow to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and too “China-centric.”.

Trump falsely claimed that the WHO had caved to pressure from China “to mislead the world when the virus was first discovered by Chinese authorities” and that it is under the “total control” of China.

In July, the Trump administration sent a letter officially notifying the United Nations that the United States was leaving the WHO.

The letter started the formal process of withdrawal that President Trump first threatened in April when he halted funding to the WHO.

“On 6 July 2020, the United States of America notified the Secretary-General … of its withdrawal from the World Health Organization, effective on 6 July 2021,” reports quoted Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, as saying.

NPR noted that “to leave the organization, the U.S. is supposed to give a one-year notice and pay outstanding dues, according to language that the U.S. added to the WHO constitution when it joined the treaty in 1948. As of June 30, the U.S. owed $198 million in unpaid membership dues.”

But people close to Joe Biden who became President-elect on Saturday after beating President Trump in the 2020 presidential election told reporters that the new President will repeal the Muslim ban on day one and rejoin the WHO.

TRUMP MUSLIM BAN

Biden reiterated in July that if elected President he would repeal the Muslim ban.

“I will end the Muslim ban on day one. Day one. And I will work with Congress to pass hate crimes legislation like the Jabara-Hever No Hate Act and the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act,” Biden told attendees at the Million Muslim Votes Summit, an online conference hosted by Engage Action, the largest Muslim-American political group in the United States.

Almost immediately after he was inaugurated in January 2017, President Donald Trump suspended entry to the United States of travelers from seven majority Muslim countries, including Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.

The executive order created chaos at airport around the world, triggering a slew of lawsuits.

When federal judges lifted the first ban’s implementation, Trump issued a second ban that was also quickly lifted in federal courts.

President Trump did not give up, and issued a third version of the ban in the fall of 2017 that applied to six majority Muslim countries and two non-majority Muslim countries.

In 2018, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the third ban, which remains in place today.

Biden had vowed to end what he described as “Donald Trump’s assault on black and brown people with his vile Muslim ban.”

In January this year, President Trump issued another travel ban that targeted African countries, including the most populous nation in the continent, Nigeria.

That ban targeted citizens of Nigeria, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said during a call with reporters that under the ban, citizens from Nigeria, Eritrea, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan won’t be allowed to apply for visas that can lead to permanent residency in the United States.

Wolf said the targeted visas were distinct from non-immigrant visas issued to visitors.

The Trump administration said the new policy was designed to tighten security for countries that do not comply with U.S. minimum security standards or cooperate to prevent illegal immigration.

Under the regulation, citizens from Sudan and Tanzania were also barred from participating in the diversity visa lottery, which offers permanent residency to those citizens in the United States.

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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