On his first visit to Africa since the beginning, he spoke in Dakar, capital of West African country, Senegal. COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Guterres said, “It is impossible to discuss the socio-economic situation without mentioning the war in Ukraine and its effects on Africa..”
The UN chief made the remarks after meeting the country’s President Macky Sall, who said that the war in Ukraine was “a human tragedy” which can have “a dramatic impact on economies, in particular, those of developing countries.”
Senior UN officials are worried that the conflict in Ukraine is driving up fuel and food prices around the world. Rising costs will push more people into hunger and could lead to political instability and social unrest in some parts of Africa, where food prices have increased by a third since last year.
Before the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in February, the combination conflict, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic was already affecting the socioeconomic situation in Africa, particularly in the Sahel region that includes Senegal.
Vaccine equity, sovereignty
President Sall and Mr. Guterres visited a new high-tech vaccine manufacturing facility currently being built in Dakar by the Institut Pasteur. It will be able produce a variety of vaccines, including Pfizer BioNTech, which is one of the most popular immunizations against COVID-19. It will also be capable of producing experimental vaccines against tuberculosis and malaria.
Speaking at the End of World Immunization Day, Mr. Guterres said that it was necessary to “build true vaccine equity across the world,” and that it was “unacceptable” that close to 80 per cent of Africans are not vaccinated against COVID-19; a situation which he called a “moral failure.”
President Macky Sall called for pharmaceutical sovereignty and supported the development of a African pharmaceutical industry that can meet basic needs and deal with pandemics.
Senegal is enhancing its drug manufacturing sector as part of the COVID-19 Recovery Plan. It’s expected that the vaccination facility will produce at least 50 per cent of the country’s needs.
UN News/Daniel Dickinson
Mr. Guterres added that the world’s “The wealthiest countries should encourage the donation of vaccines by pharmaceutical companies and invest in local production.,” of the type seen at Institut Pasteur facility.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) May 1, 2022
Response to global crisis
Increased investment is part of a global strategy to support developing countries facing what the UN has called “cascading crises.” In March 2022, the UN Chief established the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and FinanceGCRG) set up in response to the crisis provoked by Russia’s invasion of UkraineAccording to the statement, the invasion was having alarming effects on an already fragile world economy that was already suffering from COVID-19 and climate changes.
President Macky Sall is one of six eminent world leaders who have been named as Champions of the group and who are supporting the Secretary-General’s call for immediate action to prevent, mitigate and respond to the crisis. He is also the Chairperson, 2022, of the African Union.
The GCRGThe call is made to countries to think of creative ways to fund increased humanitarian and recovery needs around the world, and to generously release funds they have pledged.
Food, energy, and finance
Talking to reporters in Dakar, Mr Guterres said “we must ensure a steady flow of food and energy in open markets, removing all unnecessary export restrictions,” adding that “It is important that countries resist the temptation to hoard energy and instead release strategic reserves of energy..”
The UN estimates that 25% of the world’s population could be forced into extreme poverty by the effects of the conflict in Ukraine. International financial institutions have a key role to play and “must urgently provide debt relief by increasing liquidity and fiscal space,” the UN Chief said, “so that governments can avoid default and invest in social safety nets and sustainable development for their people.”