Nigeria’s Ambassador to Cuba, Benaoyagha Okoyen, has led the African Diplomatic Group in Cuba to provide humanitarian support for COVID-19 response to the Cuban government.

The African diplomats presented a cheque of 13,451.68 dollars to the Cuban government through the UN Development Programme (UNDP) on Thursday in Havana, says a text made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Left, Amb Ben. Okoyen, Nigerian Ambassador in Cuba, Mrs Maydolis Sasa Hilton, Director for sub-Saharan Africa of the Cuban Ministry of External Relations and Ambassador of Egypt, Mr. Maher El-Adawy at presentation of donation and support to the Cuban government through the UNDP at Havana, Cuba on Thursday

NAN reports that Okoyen is the Champion and Coordinator of the African Diplomatic Group in Cuba to support humanitarian response to COVID-19 that has ravaged the Caribbean country.

The donation would be used to buy supplementary medicines and equipment through the UNDP project on COVID-19 to cover at least 6,000 inhabitants in Cuba for six months.

“The African Diplomatic Group in Cuba stands ready and united to partner with any individual or organisation to support the good efforts of the Cuban Government during our diplomatic engagement in Cuba, if contacted on any issue,” said Okoyen.

Okoyen, who was the immediate past Consul-General of Nigeria in New York, is also concurrently accredited to Bahamas, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Chair of the African Diplomatic Group Committee on COVID-19, Amb. Ignatus Mudjimba of Zimbabwe, presented the cheque to the UNDP Resident Coordinator in Cuba, Mrs Maribel Gutierrez.

Seated from Left- Mrs. Maribel Gutiérrez, Resident Representative of the UNDP in Cuba and Mr Nasser Ousbo, Ambassador of the Republic of Djibouti and Dean of the African Group of the Diplomatic Corps signing agreement between the African Diplomatic Group and UNDP on Thursday in Havana, Cuba

“We stand in support of the Cuban people to show our historical link and friendship with Caribbean Country,” Mudjimba said.

The Zimbabwean envoy commended Okoyen’s efforts for coordinating the humanitarian support from the beginning with the UNDP Resident Coordinator, resulting in the partnership and donation.

Mudjimba said the occasion demonstrated to the Cuban people, African solidarity, unity, and the need for the world to live in peace irrespective of their differences to fight common enemies like COVID-19 pandemic in the world.

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“Again, partnering with the UNDP today further underscores the need for the United Nations and other international originations to do more in support of countries in moments of emergencies.

“The African Diplomatic Group, therefore, wishes to thank the Resident Coordinator of UNDP for this partnership to support Cuba.

“We call on the UNDP to continue to undertake more sustainable human development projects to support the people of Cuba and other countries in need.

“The African Group calls on the World Health Organisation (WHO) to encourage and promote local production of medicines and vaccines in developing countries to strengthen their preparedness in health emergencies.

“It will also strengthen their responses to meet public health needs, such as the current COVID-19 emergency,” he said.

Mudjimba said the world had observed with disappointment as access to vaccines remained concentrated in few industrialised countries, leaving developing countries without access to the minimum doses of vaccines that are required to survive the pandemic.

He commended Cuba for managing the COVID-19 epidemic very well.

“The African Group, therefore, wishes to congratulate President Miguel Diaz-Canal Bermudez and the government of Cuba for developing COVID-19 vaccines.

“The group also congratulated Cuba for reopening the country for normal activities on Nov. 15 after successful battle against the devastating second and third waves of COVID-19,” he said.

The Zimbabwe’s envoy said more worrisome was the unsuccessful international deliberations about COVID-19 to strengthen health emergency preparedness.

“Also to strengthen response to address the question of equitable access to vaccines, medicines, and medical technology in developing countries, while these countries continue to suffer during times of emergencies due to the unbalanced world system,” he said. (NAN)