"One of the subjects I discussed with minister Lavrov is the message from IGAD countries, from Heads of State and Government of the IGAD countries that I represent, they asked me that the Africans should be beneficiaries of this vaccine. As a good friend of Russia, I delivered this message to minister Lavrov. He took it positively and I hope we will get the vaccine once it is functional," Gebeyehu remarked.
As of Monday, more than 1.1 million cases of the coronavirus disease have been registered in Africa by the World Health Organisation, and the IGAD executive secretary underlined the desire that countries on the continent have for Russia’s vaccine.
"We cannot keep ourselves in continuous lockdowns, we cannot stay home. There are a lot of youth in Africa, many of them don’t have jobs; people cannot just stay home and die. This needs urgent intervention. That’s why we are asking – not only for the Horn of Africa region, or IGAD region – but for the whole Africa, we are asking our friends from the Russian Federation to consider Africa as a recipient and beneficiary of the vaccine against COVID-19," Gebeyehu stated.
The Sputnik V vaccine has been developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology and produced jointly with the Russian Direct Investment Fund. The vaccine is currently in phase 3 of clinical trials.
On Efforts to Combat Terrorism
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is seeking a wide-ranging security agreement with Russia to aid ongoing efforts to combat terrorism, piracy, and transnational crime, the executive secretary of the East African trading bloc, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, said, adding that the matter was discussed during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
"Geopolitically, it [East Africa] is a region which is witnessing a competition between different actors. The big actors and the small actors, the big fishes and the small fishes are competing, also sometimes coordinating efforts in specific areas. Because of that, we need peace and security agreements with the Russian Federation to counter-terrorism, transnational crime, piracy etc. This is one area that we discussed with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Mr. Sergey Lavrov," the IGAD executive secretary remarked, adding that both parties agreed to strengthen information sharing and work together on training arrangements.
Citing the ongoing presence of the Al-Shabaab insurgent movement in East Africa, Gebeyehu stated that IGAD is hoping to conclude an agreement that will strengthen the security capabilities of countries in the region.
"Another area is capacity building of the security sector with IGAD member states, it’s also very important … It has to be coordination efforts based on our common interests.," the IGAD official stated.
"Russia has very good foreign policies: non-interference in the internal affairs of our member states. That is what we support. We don’t want interference in matters internal to member countries, but we want to cooperate, coordinate our efforts to fight terrorism and to bring lasting peace to the region," the official stated.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a press release on Wednesday that Lavrov and Gebeyehu, during their meeting, expressed a desire to establish lasting peace in South Sudan and work together to aid stabilization efforts in Somalia.