ISMAIL OULD CHEIKH AHMED, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and Mauritanians Abroad of Mauritania, said the consequences of the pandemic have been tremendous at the economic and societal levels, especially for developing and poor nations unable to weather a crisis of this extent and duration. Measures to stem the pandemic have not been commensurate with expectations or needs, and developed States must guarantee to provide vaccine access and strengthen the technological capacities of those States in need. He also reiterated an appeal for total cancellation of all external debt of African countries.
Domestically, the country has reached a 15 per cent vaccination rate and strictly implemented preventative measures, he said. Despite a global rise in the cost of basic commodities, he noted they are available in Mauritania at reduced rates, with 120,000 households representing 600,000 people in vulnerable situations receiving health coverage and others receiving direct financial aid. The Government has announced a “holistic economic take-off plan” to overcome the challenges and constraints of the pandemic, implemented in parallel with other programmes to ensure universal access to basic services. Mauritania is also training young people with skills necessary to enter the labour market, and working towards a strong role for women in political life. He further noted efforts to consolidate the principle of separation of powers and independence of the judiciary.
Mauritania is committed to fighting terrorism, working to foster religious dialogue, and to dry up sources of financing for extremists. During his country’s presidency of the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel), the “Coalition for the Sahel” was launched in June 2020 to support countries in the region as they grapple with a dramatically worsened security situation, forced migration and food crisis. He noted 14 million people in the Sahel face food insecurity, with 29 million in need of urgent human assistance. International partners have a moral obligation to help, but political leaders of the subregion must also uphold promises to provide good governance. He reaffirmed the right of the Palestinian people to an independent, viable State with East Jerusalem as its capital. Restating an “unwavering position” on the conflict in Western Sahara, he said Mauritania takes no particular side, supporting United Nations and Security Council resolutions, and called for the appointment of a special envoy. Looking towards the end of the transitional period in Libya, he further called for a political solution to the crisis in Syria, and expressed support for the legitimacy of Yemen and a peaceful solution pursuant to the Gulf Initiative.
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