Africa’s ‘Triple Crisis’ Aggravated by Ukraine War — Global Issues

Speaking in Dakar, capital of the West African country Senegal, on his first visit to the continent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Guterres said: “when discussing the socio-economic situation, it is impossible not to mention the war in Ukraine and its impact on Africa.”

The UN chief made the remarks after meeting the country’s President Macky Sall, who said the war in Ukraine was “a human tragedy” that could have “a dramatic impact on economies, in particular those of developing countries.” ”.

The conflict in Ukraine is driving up global food and fuel prices; Senior UN officials are concerned that rising costs will starve more people and could lead to political instability and social unrest in parts of Africa, where food prices have increased by a third since last year.

Before the start of the Russian invasion in February, the combination of climate change, conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic was already impacting the socio-economic situation in Africa, especially in the Sahel region, which includes Senegal.

Vaccine equity and sovereignty

Previously, Mr. Guterres and President Sall had visited a new high-tech vaccine production facility currently being built by the Institut Pasteur in Dakar. When completed, it will be able to produce a variety of vaccines, including Pfizer-BioNTech, one of the most widely used immunizations against COVID-19. It will also be able to manufacture experimental vaccines against malaria and tuberculosis.

A Senegalese man holds his COVID-19 vaccination card

UNICEF/Vincent Tremeau

A Senegalese man holds his COVID-19 vaccination card

Speaking at the end of World Immunization Week, Guterres said there was a need to “build true vaccine equity across the world” and that it was “unacceptable” that around 80 percent of Africans are not vaccinated against COVID-19; a situation he called “moral failure.”

President Macky Sall called for pharmaceutical sovereignty in supporting the emergence of an African pharmaceutical industry capable of meeting basic needs and dealing with pandemics.

As part of the COVID-19 recovery plan, Senegal is strengthening its drug manufacturing sector. The vaccination unit is expected to produce at least 50 percent of the country’s needs.

The vaccine production facility in Dakar, Senegal will make COVID-19 and other vaccines.

UN News/Daniel Dickinson

The vaccine production facility in Dakar, Senegal will make COVID-19 and other vaccines.

Mr. Guterres added that the “Wealthier countries and pharmaceutical companies must accelerate vaccine donation and invest in local production”, of the kind seen in the premises of the Institut Pasteur.

Response to the global crisis

The increase in investment is part of a global strategy to support developing countries facing what the UN has called “cascade crises”. In March 2022, the UN chief established the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance (GCRG) created in response to the crisis provoked by Russia’s invasion of Ukrainesaying the invasion was having alarming effects on a world economy already hit by COVID-19 and climate change.

President Macky Sall is one of six eminent world leaders who have been named 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 of the African Union for 2022.

The GCRG calls on countries to find creative ways to fund increasing humanitarian and development recovery needs around the world and to generously and promptly donate the funds they have already pledged.

Food, energy and finance

Speaking to reporters in Dakar, Guterres said that “we must ensure a constant flow of food and energy in open markets, removing all unnecessary restrictions on exports”, adding that “countries must resist the temptation to hoard and instead release strategic energy stocks.”

The UN estimates that a quarter of a billion people could be pushed into extreme poverty this year, caused by the aftermath 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”, said the UN chief, “so that governments can avoid default and invest in social safety nets and sustainable development for its people”.

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