ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, 25 MAY 2020. For the first time, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) in collaboration with the Operations Division of the African Union Peace and Security Department (PSD) successfully deployed 28 frontline responders from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali and Niger through activation of the African Union Strategic Lift Capability.
This operation aligns with Article 6 of the Protocol relating to the establishment of the Peace and Security Council (PSC), which provides, as one of the core functions of Council, humanitarian action and disaster management. On 9 March 2020, the PSC issued the communique number 915 on the situation of the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic and called on African Union Member States to support and allow Africa CDC to continue with its activities in responding to COVID-19 on the continent.
On 22 February 2020, an emergency meeting of African Ministers of Health was held in Addis Ababa, which led to the endorsement of the Joint Africa Continental Strategy for COVID-19 and establishment of the Africa Taskforce for Novel Coronavirus (AFTCOR). The joint strategy is based on the need to coordinate, communicate, collaborate and communicate among Member States in their preparedness and eventual response to COVID-19, including cross-border detection and control. The ministers called on the African Union Commission, donors and partners to support coordination by African countries in their efforts to prepare for and respond to COVID-19.
The African Standby Force, therefore, activated the African Union Strategic Lift Capability as part of efforts to support implementation of the Joint Africa Continental Strategy for COVID-19. The PSD communicated with several Member States to provide military aircraft to support the operation. Several member states showed interest and the Government of Cameroon was chosen to support this first mission within the framework of the African Standby Force.
We appreciate the remarkable collaboration of the Government of DRC and Cameroon in facilitating this mission in close cooperation and collaboration with several African countries that provided exceptional approval, opened their airspaces, and created a humanitarian corridor to allow the aircraft to pass through.
This is a historic mission as it was operated on 25 May 2020, the birth date of the Organization for African Unity (African Union), now called the Africa Day. This complex mission shows the African solidarity, builds upon existing capacities on the continent, and shows how Africans cooperate to support each other in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since February 2020, Africa CDC has been deploying experts to support response to the COVID-19 at its headquarters and in some Member States. Africa CDC and PSD will continue to coordinate, cooperate and collaborate to support efforts to respond to COVID-19 on the continent.