SOUTH African President Cyril Ramaphosa says countries imposing travel bans on his country and other Southern African nations are going back against their word at the G20 Summit held in Rome last month.
Addressing his Family Meeting, Ramaphosa noted how duplicitous countries which effected the travel ban were after SA announced the detection of the Omicron Variant.
“We are deeply disappointed by the decision of several countries to prohibit travel from a number of Southern African countries following the identification of the Omicron variant.
“This is a clear and completely unjustified departure from the commitment that many of these countries made at the meeting of G20 countries in Rome last month.
“They pledged at that meeting to restart international travel in a safe and orderly manner, consistent with the work of relevant international organisations such as the World Health Organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Maritime Organization and the OECD,” he said adding, “The G20 Rome Declaration noted the plight of the tourism sector in developing countries, and made a commitment to support a “rapid, resilient, inclusive and sustainable recovery of the tourism sector”.
Countries that have imposed travel restrictions on South Africa and other Southern African countries include the United Kingdom, United States, European Union members, Canada, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Japan, Thailand, Seychelles, Brazil and Guatemala, among others.
“These restrictions are unjustified and unfairly discriminate against our country and our Southern African sister countries.
“The prohibition of travel is not informed by science, nor will it be effective in preventing the spread of this variant.
“The only thing the prohibition on travel will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to, and recover from, the pandemic.
“We call upon all those countries that have imposed travel bans on our country and our Southern African sister countries to urgently reverse their decisions and lift the ban they have imposed before any further damage is done to our economies and to the livelihoods of our people.
“There is no scientific justification for keeping these restrictions in place,” the SA President said.
In a related matter, US based Zimbabwean Dr Mati Hlatshwayo Davis said the travel bans were ineffective and unjustified.
“Rushed travel bans that only target African countries perpetuate stigma and xenophobia. We know this variant has now been isolated in more countries outside of Africa, where are their travel bans? Focus on vaccine equity and implementing tried and true mitigation strategies,” she
She said the variant was also detected in Europe, UK and the US as well.
“This makes it crystal clear. African countries are being singled out and it is wrong. This needs to needs to be addressed now,” Dr Mati said giving a picture of other countries where this variant was detected. The countries Israel, Belgium, UK which was the first country to announce the ban, Germany, Italy and Czech Republic.