Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the African Union [AU], Intergovernmental Authority for Development [IGAD] and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa [UNECA], Her Excellency Ambassador Rebecca Amuge Otengo has called upon African Union to pay special attention to Somalia in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ambassador made this observation while responding to a presentation by Somalia’s counterpart who raised a red flag during a teleconferencing meeting of the African Union Permanent Representative Committee group of East Africa.
Her counterpart was informing the meeting of the increasing trend of infections coupled with noncompliance to directives issued by the Somalian government in a bid to tackle COVID-19.
Amb Otengo noted that Somalia has become a hotspot for coronavirus within the region. As of today, according to Worldometer, Somalia has 928 confirmed cases, over 44 cases and 106 recoveries.
She however noted that many infections go undetected. According to the ambassador, if intervention is delayed and transmission of the virus not slowed down, the patients’ upsurge and increasing demand for health care could overwhelm the country’s fragile health system.
According to the diplomat, Somalia’s fragile state worries Uganda because the Pearl of Africa is a member of the Troop Contributing Country of the AMISOM with at least 6,223 Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) officers based in Sector 1. Uganda has the largest contingent in the peace peeping mission.
She further noted that if the threat of COVID-19 is not contained, it could jeopardize AMISOM’s mission to degrade Al-shabaab in order to bring about lasting peace in Somalia.
“The threat posed by the coronavirus could undermine the efforts and sacrifices of our soldiers to ensure lasting peace in Somalia and by implication the entire Eastern African region,” Otengo who’s also Uganda’s ambassador to Ethiopia and Djibouti remarked.
She added that “a quick and appropriate response by African Union was long overdue.”
According to Brigadier General Richard Otto, who’s the commanding officer of Sector 1 under which Mogadishu, Somalia’s Capital falls, the coronavirus pandemic has come with various disruption of their peace keeping mission, but added that the soldiers were devising means to deal with the threat caused by the virus.
The meeting also recognized and thanked President Museveni’s candid and solid approach that has helped Uganda contain the spread of the virus.
Reacting to Otengo’s remarks, various Ugandans Twitter users gave vote of thanks for her “outward looking approach” in the fight to eradicate COVID-19. Some say “unity and solidarity” is “key”.
Lawyer Daniel Obal who’s also the Ajuri Constituency MP aspirant, reacted that the ambassador’s intervention is key and timely.
Mr Obal noted that a combination of COVID-19 and the Al-shabaab in Somalia could bring down the country unless positive steps are taken to mitigate the “would be devastating effects”.