Special Summit of the IGAD Heads of State and Government on (COVID-19) Pandemic

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Statement of H.E. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo during the Special Summit of the IGAD Heads of State and Government on the CoronaVirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.

Your Excellency Abdalla Hamdok, Prime Mnister of Sudan and the Chair of IGAD,

Head of States, Excellences and Ladies And Gentlemen,

I warmly welcome this timely IGAD Special Summit of the Heads of State and Government on the Corona Virus pandemic. I thank my brother H.E. Abdalla Hamdok, The Prime Minister of Sudan and the Chair of the IGAD Assembly of the Heads of State and Government and H.E. Dr. Gebeyehu, our Executive Secretary and Dr Abiy Ahmed the Prime Minister of Ethiopia to take the initiative for bringing us all together today for this crucial Summit.

I also recognize the commitment from the other Heads of State and Governments of the IGAD family of nations to address the deadly corona virus together at this challenging time as is evidenced by this very Summit.

Corona virus has challenged the world in ways never seen before and, like every other nation in the world, Somalia has focused on understanding, prevention and response to this deadly health threat to which the world still remains vulnerable more than any other thing. As previously said, according to international reports, the number of cases of the virus has surpassed 600,000 with a death toll of over 20,000 lives. Despite all global efforts, these fatal heartbreaking numbers continue to rise daily. Indeed, these are tragic numbers in an uncertain time for the world as a whole.

The international response to the Corona Virus is commendable but it is indicative of how unprepared the world was for an epidemic of this kind. Our global collective response which includes targeted public information campaigns, social distancing, closure of public spaces, institutions and businesses, restriction to physical movement and quarantining of affected patients is also a sign of how little we actually still know of this deadly virus. Accordingly, what matters more than anything else today is cooperation, collaboration and common action to keep each of our citizens safe.

In Somalia, we have had 3 reported cases of the Corona Virus so far and we have since taken all the necessary measures and policy actions to combat and mitigate its affects and impact. While the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Member States health teams and experts are doing a great job on the ground, still Somalia is vulnerable to a health emergency in this scale because of the infancy of its health systems and infrastructure which are only now starting to take shape.

Fully recognizing this and the menacing rate at which the Corona virus is spreading globally and within our own region, I welcome the development of an IGAD regional strategy to combat and mitigate this health pandemic. I also encourage the urgent establishment of a mechanism through which our regional medical experts, led by the Ministries of Health and Public Health Agencies can communicate, share information and coordinate regional efforts.

In this war against the corona virus, these knowledge based actions and their clinical and public health interventions are key to saving the lives of our brotherly people. Indeed, Corona Virus knows no borders and we need to shield ourselves with a common defense against it.

Excellences and Dear Brothers and sisters,

The impact of the Corona Virus extends beyond a global medical emergency. It has caused panic, fear and, according to the International Monetary Fund, can cause a global recession. This is a painful reality in our region with private sector activities and trade volumes falling while the potential side effects are most likely to be unemployment and business confidence.

Given the necessary public health policy measures adopted globally and, by us all too, almost all industries from aviation, retail, professional services to tourism are suffering and this is already having a disastrous effect on domestic revenue mobilization and personal incomes. The economic losses are grave and, as a region, while we may have individual economic and fiscal interventions to ease the pain on a short-term basis, we do not benefit from a collective fund to mitigate the worst of the economic shock to come from the virus in the medium to long term.

On these crucial financial matters, the mobilization of the Regional Windows of the International Financial Institutions, especially the World Bank and African Development Bank, are important as they will complement our individual countries allocations and ongoing and future health projects. I therefore propose a separate IGAD Finance Minister’s meeting with the Development Banks and relevant bilateral and multilateral partners to take these matters forward.

Excellencies and Dear Brothers and Sisters,

To conclude, the Corona Virus is challenging us today in unprecedented ways and it has laid bare our national and regional preparedness weaknesses for global pandemics and economic shocks. it is truly deadly and will need every ounce of our effort and cooperation to ensure we keep our people, countries and region safe from it while mitigating its devastating health and economic impact. The Corona Virus Epidemic must be the final wake up call for us all to work even more closely together for regional social, economic and political cooperation to ensure the security, development and common prosperity of our brotherly peoples.

I thank you all.

Monday 30th March 2020.

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