Guest Writer - Coronavirus: "Mr. President, please don't forget Africa!

Photo credit: Vincent Reynaud-Lacroze

Tribune. Mr President, it must be said that this pandemic "We are obliged toThese are your words. For the women and men infected with Covid-19, patients, carers, pharmacists, refuse collectors, cashiers, firefighters, social workers, paramedics, the list goes on...

With regard to the most vulnerable, of course, in particular the 200,000 people who, despite your commitments, are still on the streets in France and who do not have the means to protect themselves, to confine themselves, to look after themselves.

In the eyes of history, too. Chancellor Angela Merkel pointed out that this health crisis had no equivalent in terms of challenge for Germany since the Second World War. You, Mr Macron, have also emphasised this for our country.

History will remember the decisions we make and the high ground we stand on.

In this context of extreme urgency, where masks and respirators are needed to save lives here in France, we ask you, aware of our responsibility, to take an initiative, for and with Africa. As the World Health Organisation (WHO) has pointed out, the Coronavirus crisis will be particularly dramatic on this continent where social safety nets do not exist and where the medical equipment required to respond to this crisis is lacking, where 85% of the population south of the Sahara does not have access to clean water or soap and where people have to go to work no matter what to feed their families. It is a matter of days.

The extreme emergency is therefore here, but also there, with human, social and economic consequences that we can hardly imagine and whose systemic repercussions already concern us.

Today, 138 countries have closed their schools throughout their territory, affecting just over 1.3 billion children and young people, with major risks of dropping out of school in the medium and long term.

Many of our organisations, working in international solidarity, have been hard hit by the coronavirus crisis in their programmes, their economic models, their strategies. As you said, nothing will be the same after this crisis. But first of all, we have to limit its spread: we are doing this now, with our teams and young volunteers in Africa who are raising awareness of barrier gestures. We can do much more!

But for this to happen, we need to be able to continue our prevention, education and training activities on the ground. These complementary actions to health allow us to have a holistic and strategic vision of the complex and unprecedented crisis we are experiencing. We must therefore think together, because the solution can only be collective, supportive and international, to ensure the health-education continuum by also taking into account food issues, but also emergency after emergency. Our solidarity must therefore be equal to this crisis and its challenges.

This crisis already concerns the survival of thousands of women, men and children, but it also shows that the health and medical emergency must necessarily be combined with awareness and education actions which, in parallel to care, allow anticipation and protection, and therefore to multiply the effects of the fight against the pandemic.

Interconnections

In the age of globalisation, our solidarity cannot be confined to our own territory. The closure of borders is certainly understandable in such an unprecedented situation, but it should not mean that exchanges between nations are only virtuous in times of growth and development. On the contrary, the interconnections are such, and the future of the planet an urgent necessity, that we cannot neglect what is happening elsewhere, particularly in Africa, where the crisis will probably wreak more havoc than on any other continent, with an impact on the whole of humanity.

Mr President, we can save lives, many lives. We, the main associations for solidarity and development through education, are mobilising everywhere we are present, particularly in Africa. But we need money to continue to act and to exist. We must, of course, give funds to humanitarian health or emergency organisations, but we must also strengthen education funds as a support and complement to emergency health actions. Without this support, we will not be able to provide a systemic and collective response.

This is why we urge you, first of all, to set up a safeguard fund for the international solidarity organisations that need it, so that they can get through this crisis, which is also extremely serious for them. We then ask you to respect the trajectory of 0.55 % of gross national income by 2022 devoted to public development aid, as you committed to at the beginning of your mandate and in view of this historic crisis in education and health.

We ask you, on behalf of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which you have largely supported, to launch without delay a strong, historic, international and solidarity-based initiative by calling for the mobilisation of public funds with the French Development Agency (AFD), the European Union, the GPE, the World Bank and the major development banks, but also with private funds from companies and foundations, in order to propose a collective and coherent response.

Read this article on Le Monde.fr

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Secular Solidarity and Aide et Action, initiators of this appeal and challenged by their African partners, invite all education and international solidarity organisations to join them by signing this appeal to the President of the French Republic: Anne- Marie HarsterPresident of Solidarité laïque ; Aïcha Bah DialloPresident of Aide et Action International; Gwenaëlle BouilléPresident of Aide et Action France; Alain CanonneGeneral Delegate of Solidarité laïque ; Charles-Emmanuel BallangerDirector General of Aide et Action

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Signatories who joined the call :

The Education Coalition and its members Catherine AlvarezExecutive Director of Asmae-Sœur Emmanuelle; Jean-Luc CazaillonGeneral Director of the CEMEA; Henry de CazotteRuvie Gambia, President of Engagé.e.s et Déterminé.e.s ; Aurélie Gal-RegniezDirector of Equipop; Yolaine GuerifExecutive Director of Partage; Véronique Jenn-Treyerco-director of Planet Children and Development; Fréderic MarchandGeneral Secretary of UNSA Education; Catherine Nave-BekhtiGeneral Secretary of the Fédération des Sgen-CFDT; Patrice PapetPresident of Planète urgence; Manuel PatrouillardDirector General, Handicap International; Morgane PerochePermanent Delegate of the International Federation of CEMEA; Hanta RakotondramavoDirector of DEFI; Agnès RiffonneauPresident of GREF (Groupement des éducateurs sans frontières); Joël RomanPresident of the Ligue de l'enseignement; Yvan SavyDirector of Plan International France; Benoît TESTE, General Secretary of the FSU; Danièle Toulemontinternational delegate of Agir ABCD; Roland TubianaPresident of Solthis (Solidarité thérapeutique et initiatives pour la santé)

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