US Plans For some African countries
OpenLife Nigeria reports that after a weeklong trip to some countries on the Africa Continent, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, highlights U.S efforts to address food and regional security and strengthen partnerships with key current and former UN Security Council members during an interactive session in U.S. Department of State’s Africa Regional Media Hub
I’m just coming off of a very productive weeklong trip to Ghana, Mozambique, Kenya, and Somalia. I had four overarching goals for this trip: to strengthen our partnerships with current and former UN Security Council members; follow up on our priorities from the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, including combating climate change; shine a spotlight on humanitarian issues, particularly famine; and continue our consultations on UN reform to ensure the UN is fit for purpose.
In Ghana, I met with Foreign Minister Shirley Botchwey, thanked her for Ghana’s strong partnership on the Security Council, and discussed prospects for UN reform. We also discussed regional security issues and UN peacekeeping.
In Mozambique, I met with their minister of foreign affairs and cooperation to discuss Mozambique’s historic first term on the Security Council, as well as shared priorities like climate change, women, peace, and security issues, and regional security. I also met with UN officials working to build a safer, more peaceful region as well as members of civil society, entrepreneurs, students, activists, and members of my beloved YALI exchange program. I even had the opportunity to volunteer alongside local environmental activists at the last remaining coastal mangrove forest in urban Maputo, an important natural defense against the effects of climate change that we must protect.
In Kenya, I met with President Ruto. I expressed my deep appreciation for Kenya’s leadership on the Security Council during its two-year tenure and discussed ways we can partner on food security and counterterrorism in the Horn of Africa. I also visited the UN office in Nairobi and met with officials from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian assistance, the World Food Program, the Food and Agriculture Organization, UNHCR, and UNICEF, to discuss refugee assistance in Kenya. And I delivered remarks along with a representative from Church World Service about the value of the newly launched Welcome Corps, and how kind-hearted Americans can now welcome refugees to the United States. I also visited a state-of-the-art manufacturing and assembly hub for electronic vehicles in Kenya. I was impressed with Kenya’s efforts to accelerate a just energy transition and tackle the climate crisis. Finally, in Somalia, I met with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to discuss the severe drought and potential for famine in Somalia, as well as a wide range of issues, including political reconciliation, how to sustain the offensive against al-Shabaab, and how to develop security forces who can assume responsibility for ATMIS. I also met with ATMIS as well as local UN humanitarian and NGO groups to discuss how we can improve their safety and security while they risk their lives to deliver therapeutic feeding to remote communities despite the terrorism threat.
At the end of my trip, I made a speech in Mogadishu on how the international community must come together to end famine forever. When I heard – what I heard and saw in Somalia is that because of the combination of COVID, conflict, and climate, the threat of famine is back. The word “famine” should be an anachronism. We have the tools to banish it to a bygone era. I announced $40 million in new, additional funding from the United States to Somalia to save lives, stave off famine, and meet humanitarian needs. But the truth is the United States can’t do this alone. My call is for the international community to step up and do more. Those countries with the means to give more must heed the call of humanity. There is no reason – none at all – that we cannot get resources to the people in acute need. So let’s be ambitious; let’s end famine forever, together.
Raising questions from Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield’s overview, Christine Holzbauer of Financial Afrik in Senegal asked: “A big international summit to improve food resilience just took place in Dakar. The African Bank for Development made announcements to this purpose. Therefore, your visit to the continent, as well as those of other American officials, seems redundant. Do you have any new, concrete items to announce to compensate for the shortages and suffering for their populations that many countries in Africa must endure because of the war between Russia and Ukraine?”
In response, Greenfield said “And I am honestly extraordinarily pleased with the conference that was held in Dakar, the leadership that African countries are taking to deal with this issue. But we’re also there as partners. As I just said, we just announced 40 million new dollars to this effort to fight the effects of food insecurity, to fight climate change. We have given close to if not more than $2.3 billion to these efforts across the Horn of Africa. I was in Ghana earlier last year and spoke about the issues of food insecurity. I met with farmers. I heard their concerns. And we are working with these countries as well as others to address those concerns. And we’re asking other donors to join those efforts.
So our work is not redundant; it’s complementary to what is taking place on the continent of Africa.
In like manner, Dylan Gamba of Agence France-Presse in Kenya asked: “What is the current situation of the war against al-Shabaab in Somalia? Would you say the government is winning, as it appears the al-Shabaab have a strategy of tit for tat when a city is recaptured? What is the situation regarding the famine?”
Greenfield responded: On the fight against al-Shabaab, the fight continues. The government is making progress against al-Shabaab, and we’re working side by side with them to support their strategy. We’re working with ATMIS to also support their efforts to support the government. And those efforts will continue until they have been able to destroy al-Shabaab’s ability to terrorize the people of Somalia, to terrorize the region, and to terrorize the world.
The situation on the famine remains dire. We luckily averted the famine announcement the last time around, but still hundreds of people died from starvation, and the work needs to continue on that. We’re not out of the woods yet. What I heard when I was in the region is that they have had five failed rainfalls over the course of the past year. The sixth one is upcoming in the March-April timeframe, and if we don’t ramp up our efforts then we stand another chance of reaching famine-like conditions, if not an actual famine.
So we are working very, very closely with the humanitarian organizations, with other donors, with the countries involved, and with communities to do everything possible to ensure that we save lives and that we avert a famine a second time around.