Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has promised Africa support from Germany and the European Union in the fight against pandemics and other diseases. "Illnesses don't know national borders or continents - our solidarity shouldn't either," explained the Green politician on her visit to Rwanda, East Africa, this Monday. Baerbock wants to take part in an event in the capital Kigali at which the Mainz-based pharmaceutical company Biontech will present a centerpiece of its first production facility for mRNA vaccines in Africa.
Biontech wants to produce mRNA-based vaccines for the African continent at its Kigali site. A number of mRNA vaccines such as the Covid-19 vaccine could later be produced there and, if approved, potentially a number of other mRNA vaccines such as those against tuberculosis and malaria.
“The path to a fair international health architecture is not a short-distance run, but a team marathon,” said Baerbock. That's why "Team Europe supports the goal of African vaccine production - from the concept to the cannula."
Baerbock: First mRNA vaccine factory Hope for millions
Today, only one out of every 100 vaccine doses administered in Africa is produced there, said Baerbock. By 2040 it should be 60 times more. This is made possible by the EU Global Gateway project with 1.2 billion euros until 2027 - 550 million euros for this would come from Germany. Africa's first mRNA vaccine factory in Rwanda is "not yet the finish line - but a real milestone and hope for millions."
The EU's "Global Gateway" initiative plans to invest up to 300 billion euros in the infrastructure of emerging and developing countries over the next few years - also to ensure the EU has more global influence. The project is intended to compete with China's "New Silk Road" project.
“Nobody is safe until everyone is safe” - when the Covid pandemic swept the globe, this became clear to the world, said Baerbock. It still hurts today that far too many people, especially in Africa, were defenseless against the virus at the beginning of the pandemic and "that we as the international community literally couldn't deliver." Even with other diseases such as malaria or tuberculosis, a single vaccination can sometimes make the difference between life and death. “Fair and rapid access to life-saving vaccines must not depend on whether a child is born in Germany or Rwanda,” emphasized Baerbock.
Union for Migration Solution with Rwanda
Baerbock's conversation with her Rwandan colleague Vincent Biruta is likely to also focus on the issue of migration, which is likely to play a major role in the German election campaigns in the next two years. The plan for Rwanda to accept migrants who entered Britain irregularly based on an agreement with Great Britain is controversial.
Union parliamentary group vice-president Jens Spahn promoted the concept of third-country regulations combined with a quota solution for migration contained in the draft for the new CDU policy program in the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung”. Migrants “who reach the EU irregularly” should be taken to Ghana, Rwanda or Eastern European non-EU countries. “If we do this consistently for four, six, eight weeks, then the numbers will drop dramatically,” said the CDU politician.
Commemoration of the 1994 Tutsi genocide
Baerbock also wanted to commemorate the victims of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Kigali and lay a wreath at the memorial site for the victims. At that time, militias from the Hutu majority in Rwanda murdered at least 800,000 people, mostly members of the Tutsi minority, in a massacre that lasted around 100 days. Hundreds of thousands were victims of sexual violence.
Rwanda, one of the smallest countries in Africa in terms of area, barely larger than its German partner region Rhineland-Palatinate, has often been a development model for an entire continent, praised Baerbock - with strong economic growth, as a pioneer in climate and environmental protection and in social participation for women. The wounds of the past should also heal for all Rwandans. "Today, the whole world's common remembrance is an ongoing mission to never allow this to happen again," she added.
With around 14 million inhabitants, Rwanda is the most densely populated country in Africa. Human rights organizations criticize the persecution of opposition and critical journalists.