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For a Better World -- Looking at the Past Decade of Jointly Pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative from a Human Rights Perspective.

2023-12-07 18:35China Foundation for Human Rights Development and New China Research
by China Foundation for Human Rights Development and New China Research

China Foundation for Human Rights Development and New China Research, the think tank under Xinhua issued on Thursday a report titled "For a Better World -- Looking at the Past Decade of Jointly Pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative from a Human Rights Perspective."

   Following is the full text of the report:

   For a Better World

   -- Looking at the past decade of jointly pursuing the 'Belt and Road' Initiative from a human rights perspective.

   Table of Contents


   Chapter 1: Initiatives Aiming to Achieve Common Development and Promote the Enjoyment of Human Rights for All

   1. Jointly pursuing the "Belt and Road" Initiative provides new paths and approaches to achieve the right to development

   2. Jointly pursuing the "Belt and Road" Initiative provides a practical model for promoting development through cooperation and advancing human rights through development

   3. Jointly pursuing the "Belt and Road" Initiative has contributed Chinese wisdom to advancing global human rights governance

   Chapter 2: Enhancing Dignity of Life: Promoting the Protection of the Right to Life for the People of the "Belt and Road" Partner Countries

   1. Facilitating the satisfaction of basic life necessities

   2. Promoting the realization of the right to work

   3. Raising the income levels of residents

   4. Improving healthcare conditions

   Chapter 3: Improving the Quality of Life: Promoting the Realization of the Right to Development of the People in the "Belt and Road" Partner Countries

   1. Improving living conditions

   2. Enhancing education standards

   3. Supporting public cultural development

   4. Respecting religious customs

   5. Protecting the ecological environment

   Chapter 4: Making Development More Universally Beneficial: Promoting Special Groups to Equally Share the Results of the Cooperative Construction of the "Belt and Road"

   1. Promoting the protection of women's rights and interests

   2. Paying attention to children's rights and welfare

   3. Caring for the rights of disabled individuals

   Chapter 5: The Relevancy of Jointly Pursuing the "Belt and Road" Initiative for Global Human Rights Governance

   1. Putting people first

   2. Promoting cooperative development

   3. Embracing openness and inclusivity

   4. Upholding fairness and justice



   In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the joint construction of the "Silk Road Economic Belt" and the "21st Century Maritime Silk Road," known as the "Belt and Road" Initiative (BRI). The BRI aims to enhance all-dimensional and multi-tiered exchanges and cooperation among relevant countries, fully tap into and leverage each country's development potential and comparative strengths, and create a community of shared interests, shared responsibility, and shared destiny. It seeks to promote development through cooperation and human rights through development to advance the joint development and prosperity of partner countries and enhance the well-being of all humanity.

   Over the past decade, as a crucial practical platform for building a community with a shared future for humanity, the BRI has attracted participation from more than 150 countries and over 30 international organizations. It has driven investment of nearly one trillion dollars, generated a multitude of cooperative projects, created numerous job opportunities for partner countries, and helped lift thousands upon thousands of people out of poverty. Over the past decade, the BRI has become a highly popular international public good, a global cooperation platform, and a path to happiness, aiding partner countries in promoting human rights protection and achieving a better life.

   Promoting and safeguarding human rights is a common cause for all of humanity. Today, in the 21st century, hunger, poverty, conflicts, and environmental pollution persist while the development gap continues to widen. Many countries still face practical challenges like insufficient development momentum, relatively low overall development performance, and outdated infrastructure, which challenge the development of human rights and global human rights governance. The vision of common development and actual achievements embodied in the "Belt and Road's" cooperative construction have contributed to China's strength in advancing the global human rights cause and offered Chinese wisdom for improving global human rights governance.

   Chapter 1: Initiatives Aiming to Achieve Common Development and Promote the Enjoyment of Human Rights for All

   Development is the eternal pursuit of human society. Only through development can we address the root causes of conflicts, safeguard the people's fundamental rights, and meet their aspirations for a better life. Developing countries have put forth the concept of the right to development to seek equal and fair development opportunities, and the right to development has become a universally recognized fundamental human right in the international community.

   The Universal Declaration of Human Rights emphasizes that "everyone... has the right to enjoy the realization of all economic, social and cultural rights necessary for his dignity and the free development of his personality." In 1986, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Right to Development, clearly proclaiming that the right to development is an inalienable human right, stating that "everyone and all peoples have the right to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural, and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized." In 1993, the World Conference on Human Rights adopted the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, reiterating that the right to development is a universal and inalienable right and an integral part of fundamental human rights. In 2015, the UN adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, outlining a concrete pathway for implementing the right to development.

   The cooperative construction of the "Belt and Road" Initiative proposed by China conforms to the historical trend of economic globalization, the requirements of the times for the transformation of the global governance system, and the strong desire of people of partner countries to live a better life. It is an initiative for common development and for promoting and protecting human rights.

   1. Jointly pursuing the "Belt and Road" Initiative provides new paths and approaches to achieve the right to development

   In today's era, humanity faces prominent issues of unbalanced, inadequate, and unsustainable development and many problems like hunger, poverty, war, terrorism, environmental pollution, and climate change, which pose severe challenges to realizing the right to development. How do we tackle these thorny questions? Countries worldwide and the international community have been exploring ideas to answer the question. China has put forward the concept of building a community with a shared future for humanity, using the joint pursuit of the BRI as a practical platform to promote the common development of all countries to uplift the living standard of their people. The concept demonstrates a major country's responsibility for addressing global challenges and advancing the cause of human rights worldwide.

   Joint pursuit of the BRI is a development initiative that provides realistic paths and feasible plans for promoting the realization of the right to development. It takes the "hard connectivity" in infrastructure as an important direction, "soft connectivity" in rules and standards as an essential support, and "heart connectivity" with the people of the partner countries as a vital foundation. We will continue consolidating the political foundation of cooperative construction of the BRI to promote coordinated development among partner countries by creating synergy for policy communication and planning connectivity through policy coordination. Guided by major projects and critical undertakings, we will continue improving the jointly built BRI's infrastructure network through facility connectivity. We will continue unleashing the vitality of mutually beneficial cooperation by promoting trade and investment liberalization and facilitation through unimpeded multilateral trade. We will continue enhancing the jointly built BRI's diversified investment and financing system to further collaborate in the financial sector through financial connectivity. We will make the BRI's cooperative construction better benefit the people of all countries and achieve people-to-people connectivity by building friendly bridges among nations worldwide.

   The joint pursuit of the BRI is a global public good offered by China to the international community, characterized by Eastern wisdom and conducive to achieving common development. This initiative advocates the principles of consultation, cooperation, and shared benefits, aiming to achieve complementarity and mutual benefit. It has opened up new opportunities for global economic growth, established new platforms for international trade and investment, expanded new practices for improving global economic governance, and made new contributions to enhancing the well-being of people in all countries, thus becoming a path of prosperity for the common development of all nations.

   2. Jointly pursuing the "Belt and Road" Initiative provides a practical model for promoting development through cooperation and advancing human rights through development

   The joint pursuit of the BRI embodies people's aspirations for peace and tranquility, their pursuit of common development, their longing for a better life, and their desire for cultural exchange. It is committed to ensuring that people from partner countries can live a life free from deprivation, enjoy development, and have dignity. In essence, this aligns perfectly with the unwavering pursuit of respecting and protecting human rights by people worldwide.

   The cooperative construction of the BRI aims to promote development through cooperation. It aligns with the development and cooperation plans of international and regional organizations such as the United Nations, ASEAN, the African Union, the European Union, the Eurasian Economic Union, and various countries' development strategies. It fosters extensive finance, trade, and investment cooperation by building upon infrastructure connectivity, effectively promoting common development. According to a World Bank research report, participation in the BRI is expected to increase trade among partner countries by 2.8% to 9.7%. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres believes that the cooperative construction of the BRI contributes to more balanced, inclusive, and harmonious development in economic globalization. It holds significant importance for addressing the many challenges facing the world today through international cooperation.

   For the majority of countries, the most urgent and practical task is to eliminate hunger and poverty and accelerate economic development. Joint pursuit of the BRI promotes human rights through development, actively assisting underdeveloped countries in overcoming development bottlenecks such as infrastructure deficits, fostering the economic and social development of co-building nations, ensuring and improving people's livelihoods in the process of development, continually strengthening the foundation of human rights development, and thereby better protecting and promoting human rights.

   3. Jointly pursuing the "Belt and Road" Initiative has contributed Chinese wisdom to advancing global human rights governance

   Global human rights governance should adhere to the principle of democratic consultation. Promoting and protecting human rights is a universal endeavor that one or a few countries should not determine. The cooperative construction of the BRI fully respects all nations' sovereignty, security, development interests, and cultural traditions. It advocates mutual respect, inclusivity, exchange, and learning among various civilizations and countries. The initiative encourages engagement in development policy synergy and cooperative projects through voluntary participation, open communication, and seeking common ground while preserving differences and reaching consensus through negotiation. It reflects the idea that "international rules should be written together by all."

   The principle of equal participation should be upheld in global human rights governance. Regardless of their size, strength, or wealth, all countries are equal members of the international community and can contribute wisdom and strength to improving global human rights governance. Joint pursuit of the BRI is not one country's solo performance but a symphony played by all partners. It emphasizes that all parties involved in jointly pursuing the BRI are equal participants, contributors, and beneficiaries and that they are also shared bearers of responsibilities and risks. It advocates for increased participation through various forms of cooperation, including bilateral, third-party market, and multilateral cooperation, encouraging more countries and enterprises to engage in and profoundly and persistently advance the initiative. It aligns with the idea that "global affairs should be jointly handled by all."

   The principle of win-win cooperation should be adhered to in global human rights governance. Faced with various uncertainties brought about by war conflicts, financial crises, anti-globalization trends, and sudden public health emergencies, the international community urgently needs to strengthen cooperation to address the grave challenges facing global human rights governance. Jointly pursuing the "Belt and Road" rejects zero-sum thinking and provides a sunshine road for China and partner countries to share opportunities and seek development together. Focusing on addressing issues such as development imbalances, governance challenges, the digital divide, and income disparities ensures more equal development opportunities by allowing development benefits to reach a broader population. It embodies the idea that "development benefits should be shared by all."

   Chapter 2 Enhancing Dignity of Life: Promoting the Protection of the Right to Life for the People of the "Belt and Road" Partner Countries

   The rights to subsistence and development are the primary, basic human rights. The BRI, through a number of cooperative projects, promotes the economic and social development of various countries, effectively improving people's basic living and healthcare conditions, increasing employment, and raising income levels, thereby better ensuring their right to sustenance.

   1. Facilitating the satisfaction of basic life necessities

   The Chinese see "food as an overriding priority." Hunger has long been one of the most severe problems facing the world. Amid slowing economic development and a deteriorating ecological environment, the global issue of hunger continues to be a grave problem. Over the past decade, many people in partner countries have solved the issues of hunger and drinking water safety by jointly pursuing the BRI. As a result, their fundamental living conditions have improved.

   Agricultural cooperation is one of the critical areas of the cooperative construction of the "Belt and Road." Drawing upon its experience of development and poverty reduction, China has assisted partner countries in agricultural production, increasing their food production and creating conditions to alleviate hunger among local populations. China actively participates in global food and agricultural governance and has jointly released the "Vision and Action on Jointly Promoting Agricultural Cooperation on the Belt and Road" with relevant countries. China has signed over 100 agricultural and fishery cooperation documents with nearly 90 partner countries and international organizations. It has also established regional agricultural cooperation mechanisms, such as the "10+10" cooperation mechanism for Sino-African agricultural research institutions, actively promoting regional cooperation in food security.

   Charles Ngendakumana, a farmer from the Bubanza Province, Burundi, went from not having enough to eat to providing his family with plenty of food and building a new house in just four years.

   "Chinese experts taught me planting techniques, allowing me to have enough food to feed my children!" said Charles, a father of six. He started growing Chinese hybrid rice four years ago under Chinese experts' guidance. Today, the yield from his land has increased from less than 6 tons per hectare to 9 tons, and the cultivation area has expanded from half a hectare to five.

   "As livelihood improved, his family has built a new house that stands out in the village. "Next, I plan to buy more land and a few more cows and add two new water pumps when the dry season comes," Charles envisions for the future.

   The Ninga 4 Village, Commune of Gihanga, where Charles resides, is the first rice-based poverty reduction demonstration village established by a Chinese expert team in Burundi. Under the framework of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum and based on agreements between the governments of China and Burundi, China has implemented a high-level agricultural expert technical cooperation project in Burundi since August 2009. A total of five batches of 45 Chinese agricultural technology experts have been sent to the region to assist with aid tasks. They have successfully implemented several demonstration village projects on hybrid rice and poverty reduction. Chinese experts conducted in-depth field research and experiments, introducing various rice varieties suitable for local cultivation. They solved historical challenges in mountainous areas where rice crops suffered from reduced yields or even complete losses due to the disease of rice blast fungus (Magnaporthe grisea). They also achieved the localized cultivation of some rice varieties. The cultivation area of hybrid rice in Burundi has been continuously expanding, reaching 4,000 hectares by June 2023. Rice production has increased by 19,000 tons, and farmers' incomes have grown by 9.1 million US dollars. This progress contributes to the Burundian government's vision of "food for all and savings for every household."

   As of 2021, China had sent more than 2,000 agricultural experts and technicians to more than 70 countries and regions, promoted and demonstrated more than 1,500 agricultural technologies in many countries, and helped projects increase production by 40% to 70% on average.

   Water is the source of life, but residents' access to essential drinking water remains unsecured year-round in many regions worldwide, especially in arid areas. The Rural Well Project is one of the measures under the China-Africa 'Ten Major Cooperation Plans.' Senegal, located near the Sahara Desert, has vast central and eastern areas that are semi-desert zones, with temperatures reaching as high as 45°C during the dry season. In rural areas far from cities, villagers face significant challenges in basic drinking water. After implementing the Rural Well Project, financed by China, 251 wells will be sunk, and 1,800 kilometers of pipelines will be laid. This initiative will address the water needs of one-seventh of Senegal's population.

   Touba Fall in the Diourbel Region was once such a water-scarce village. "Fetching water used to be very difficult for us. We had to walk 1.5 kilometers daily to a neighboring village to draw it from a well 25 meters deep. Sometimes, we had to line up from early morning till midnight. Many children in the village had to miss school," said Dioung, one of the villagers.

   In 2018, when the Chinese companies' well-digging project team arrived at the village of Touba Fall, Dioung joined the team to work on sinking a well. After completing the well project, Dioung was hired as the well's coordinator, responsible for its maintenance. Dioung mentioned that now, water pipes have reached every household in the village, enabling the villagers to have access to clean water right in their homes. He said "it was unimaginable in the past."

   While Dioung's wife was cooking with the water from the pipe system, a group of elementary school students walked by, chatting and laughing. Dioung remarked "now that we have water, the children can attend school regularly, and our lives have improved as well."

   Macky Sall, president of Senegal, has repeatedly stated that the Rural Well Project is a flagship initiative under Senegal's Rural Development Urgent Plan. The well-sinking and water-supply project spans the country, holds significant importance, and will provide robust support for developing agriculture and rural areas in Senegal. "We are thankful that China has aligned its priorities with those of Senegal and provided comprehensive support to this project," he added.

   2. Promoting the realization of the right to work

   Employment is the cornerstone of people's livelihoods. The BRI, through a number of collaborative projects, has created more jobs and provided more vocational training and education opportunities for the people in partner countries, thereby improving their human resource situation. Chinese companies involved in the BRI fully ensure the rights of their local employees in terms of rest, holidays, healthcare, and more.

   In the Smederevo Steel Plant in Serbia, over 5,000 employees found new job opportunities through their involvement in the BRI. Once known as "Serbia's pride," this plant had supported the livelihoods of one-fifth of the local population but faced difficulties due to intense international market competition and mismanagement. In April 2016, China's Hebei Iron and Steel Group acquired the steel plant and turned it around from losses to profits in a short period.

   This "reborn" steel plant retained all its original employees, with only nine Chinese resident managers sent by the Chinese side. This approach earned the trust of the local workers and received full recognition from the Serbian government. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stated that the Chinese company saved this nearly bankrupt steel plant and preserved all its jobs. Together with the cooperating businesses, this steel plant can provide 50,000 job opportunities, a significant number for Serbia.

   The Chinese private company Asia Potassium International launched the "Asia Potassium International Smart Industry Park" project in Laos in 2022, contributing to advancing its industrialization and urbanization. It is expected to increase Laos' annual fiscal revenue by 320 million US dollars and generate employment for 30,000 to 50,000 people. Lao Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone stated that this project is a model of win-win cooperation between the two countries, providing a strong impetus for Laos' economic and social development and bringing many benefits to the local people.

   The China-Laos Railway is Laos' first modern railway, fulfilling the country's long-standing aspiration to transform from a "landlocked country" to a "land-linked country." It has not only promoted regional connectivity and mutual benefits but has also generated employment opportunities in Laos. From its commencement on December 3, 2021, to May 2023, the China-Laos Railway recruited over 3,500 Laotian employees and indirectly created more than 100,000 jobs in logistics, transportation, trade, and tourism. Thanks to this railway, an increasing number of young people from remote areas of Laos can step out of the mountains and embrace the world.

   While creating job opportunities, Chinese companies also provide training and educational support to local employees, helping them enhance their skills and qualifications. In Greece, the COSCO Shipping Piraeus Port project launched the "Educational Assistance Fund" program in 2018, providing significant tuition support for employees pursuing further education while working. Antonis Apergis, the engineering department supervisor, is seeking a Master's in Business Administration with the program's assistance. He said "I am very pleased with the company's culture that prioritizes employees' well-being. The excellent working environment provided by the company and the support we receive have empowered us to tackle future challenges."

   In Doha, Qatar, China Railway International Group, which built the World Cup main stadium, not only provides safe and sanitary working conditions for over 3,000 employees from 18 different countries but has also established a "gold-level" camp with a construction area of more than 50,000 square meters. This camp includes the amenities of prayer rooms, laundromats, sports facilities, and internet cafes. In addition, the company purchases various insurances for the employees, equips them with a dedicated medical team, and ensures they enjoy rights such as vacation time, social insurance, and fringe benefits.

   3. Raising the income levels of residents

   The BRI has created new development opportunities for partner countries to drive local industrial development, helping residents increase their income and lifting them out of poverty.

   According to a research report by the World Bank, by 2030, the BRI is expected to lift 7.6 million people in partner countries out of extreme poverty and 32 million people out of moderate poverty.

   Cambodia actively participates in the BRI, and its "Five Pillar Strategy" aligns well with the initiative. In Preah Sihanouk province, as a model project for practical cooperation between China and Cambodia under the BRI, the thriving Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone has become the economic driver of the province's development. After years of continuous construction and development, the economic zone has attracted 175 companies, employing nearly 30,000 people. The annual import and export volume of enterprises in the special economic zone exceeds 2.4 billion US dollars, contributing more than 50% of the province's economic output.

   With Sihanoukville's continual progress, many tourists and investors have come to Preach Sihanouk province, driving the development of the local tourism, service, and real estate sectors, benefiting the local population directly. Currently, the per capita annual income in Preah Sihanoukville Province has reached 4,180 US dollars, ranking first among all the provinces in Cambodia and more than double the national average.

   New Hope Egypt Limited Company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of a Chinese enterprise established in Egypt, with four feed companies and one poultry breeding company under its umbrella. The company has imported formulation technology, production management systems, and breeding service systems from China, sourcing high-quality raw materials globally. Through systematic capabilities in high-quality products, professional services, industry support, and financial assistance, it annually supports the local poultry farming industry with a production of 85 million broilers and increases poultry farmers' income by over 150 million RMB.

   One "happiness fungus" plant leads to prosperity for thousands of families. In a mushroom cultivation workshop in the capital city of Kigali, Rwanda, workers carefully mix Juncao powder, cottonseed husks, lime powder, and water in the proper proportions. After sterilization and packaging, bagged mushroom culture dishes are ready. Emmanuel Ashimana, the operator of this workshop, used to work as a mechanic in a local sugar factory and was often concerned about his family's livelihood. However, with the guidance of Chinese experts, he mastered the mushroom substrate technology. In 2016, Ashimana founded this workshop, where the cultivated mushrooms are wholesaled to local vegetable markets, supermarkets, and restaurants and exported to neighboring countries like Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

   "Using Juncao Technology to cultivate mushrooms is now a lucrative business in Rwanda. And it's helping people escape poverty," said Ashimana. "I have four children, and with the income generated from Juncao Technology, I can even save some money to expand my business further after covering my children's school fees and our living expenses. The Chinese Juncao Technology has benefited me and many others."

   In Rwanda, over 35,000 farmers have received Juncao Technology-related training provided by Chinese experts, and more than 3,800 households, along with over 50 companies and cooperatives, are engaged in related industries. Currently, Chinese Juncao Technology has been extended to over 100 countries and regions worldwide, helping many farmers escape poverty. Amson Sibanda, Chief of the National Strategies and Capacity Building Branch in the Division for Inclusive Development, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, noted that Juncao Technology contributes to achieving various sustainable development goals, making it a priority project for the China-United Nations Peace and Development Fund.

   4. Improving healthcare conditions

   China actively promotes the construction of a human health community and carries out a large number of medical assistance and related infrastructure projects in countries participating in the BRI, contributing to improving the level of local medical services and promoting the development of global health undertakings.

   Over the past decade, China has continued to send medical teams to dozens of countries and regions around the world, including Africa and Asia, and has actively diagnosed and treated patients, winning widespread praise. Currently, Chinese foreign aid medical teams are still working at 115 medical points in 57 countries worldwide, nearly half of which are in remote areas with harsh living conditions.

   Over the years, Chinese medical teams have achieved many "firsts" in the medical history of various African countries, such as the first hip replacement surgery, the first mitral valve separation surgery, the first hand-reattachment surgery, the first craniotomy for traumatic brain injury, and the first corneal transplant surgery. Their compassionate care and expertise have benefited numerous African patients, and the "Chinese Docs" have become synonymous with professionalism and trustworthiness.

   Mamacherie comes from a remote mountain village in Lesotho, a country in southern Africa. She has been suffering from a "strange disease" for a long time: a massive lump in her upper and lower abdomen. Due to the scarcity of local medical resources and the complexity of her condition, although Mamacherie sought medical treatment everywhere, no hospital could treat her.

   After many inquiries, Mamacherie heard that Chinese doctors working at Motebang Hospital in Northern Lesotho could help her. So, with the attitude of giving it a try, she walked two or three hours on the mountain road to the hospital. After careful examination by doctors from the Chinese medical team, Mamacherie's symptoms were diagnosed as "huge uterine fibroids combined with a huge hernia in the upper abdominal wall." After a detailed discussion and risk assessment, the medical team combined the two operations into a one-time hysterectomy and repair of the sizable abdominal wall hernia. Mamacherie was excited when she heard that Chinese doctors were willing and able to operate on her.

   The entire surgery took approximately three hours, and the procedure went smoothly without complications. The patient's postoperative recovery was also very successful, and she could get out of bed and move around on the second day after surgery. Mamacherie, in her exhilaration after the successful surgery, exclaimed "thank you, Chinese doctors. Without your help, I would have never been able to escape the torment of this strange illness. You are my lifesavers!"

   Chinese builders contribute to creating a robust health defense system in Belt and Road Initiative partner countries. In January 2023, Phase I of the Chinese-aided African Union Africa CDC Headquarters project was completed in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. After completion, it will become the first modern and well-equipped African CDC on the continent, offering office space and advanced laboratory facilities. Local resident Wakjira Totofa expressed that "Malaria has taken away the lives of my loved ones, so I have always feared diseases. When I heard about the completion of this project, my family and friends were all very excited. It will improve our medical conditions."

   In the face of the century's worst pandemic, China is committed to unity and cooperation, joining hands with the world community in the fight against COVID-19. China has sent 38 batches of expert teams to 34 countries and provided over 2.2 billion vaccine doses to more than 120 countries and international organizations, offering vital support to BRI partner countries in their fight against the pandemic. When Chinese medical expert teams arrived, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic greeted them at the airport, warmly kissing the five-star red flag. When Chinese-assisted COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Zimbabwe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa held a handover ceremony at the presidential palace.