By Victor Shalton
African Airlines Association Calls on Countries to Revoke Unilateral Travel Restrictions
While the last few days have been among the most frustrating in the world of travel after the discovery of a new coronavirus variant in South Africa — one that become widely known as Omicron — which panicked governments into once again restricting or entirely removing the freedom to travel.
The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) has called for the removal of travel bans imposed on some African countries, emphasizing that the world should have progressed beyond the “uncoordinated” responses after nearly two years of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Medical experts have said we should be expecting variants to emerge, and by the time they are detected, the reality is that they are probably already present around the globe.
The African Trade Organisation has noted that restricting travel has never been the solution to curtailing the spread of Covid-19, and on the contrary, restrictions have only adversely impacted economies and unleashed untold hardship.
Referring to the travel bans imposed by some EU nations to ban travel to South Africa and other neighboring countries in Southern Africa, AFRAA Secretary General Abdérahmane Berthé said, “The Omicron variant is now detected in several regions of the world, yet the travel bans seem to be targeted at Africa. This is an affront to the global efforts to find an enduring solution. We will be better off confronting the virus if we work together for solutions and avoid discrimination.”
“Why target Africa when the virus is reported in other regions as well?” Berthé asked. “Any attempts to stigmatize Africa through travel bans will not work. We should not confuse politics with science.”
While the world is already finding Omicron in other parts of the world far from South Africa, where it was first identified, the African trade union insists that travel restrictions are not going to stop the spread, instead, they will do real harm to people and economies.
AFRAA is calling on all countries that have issued unilateral travel restrictions to immediately revoke them and instead seek collaborative measures that will address the Covid-19 challenge holistically.
AFRAA is also urging African governments to speak out against any attempts to smear the continent with propaganda and medical mischief. They must remind the world that we can only defeat Covid together not divided.