United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres joins African leaders convening today for the annual African Union (AU) summit, taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which will see Egypt assume the chairmanship of the African organization.
On the margins of the summit, Guterres met with the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. Mr. Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. The Secretary-General congratulated Egypt for assuming the chairmanship of the African Union and noted the importance of continuing to strengthen the UN-AU partnership in the areas of peace, security, and development.
The Secretary-General and President Al-Sisi discussed regional matters, including the implementation of the UN Action Plan in Libya, said Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
On the eve of the summit, convening under the theme of “Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons”, the Secretary-General said that African nations were setting an example for richer countries when it comes to the treatment of refugees.
Mr. Guterres, who spent 10 years as the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees, before taking up his position at the head of the organization, said that, in Africa, borders are open for refugees, and that the continent is in the leadership when it comes to addressing migration flows.
The UN chief pointed out that, contrary to popular perception, there are more African migrants in other African countries than in Europe, and migration has been dealt with in a much more humane way, he said in a press conference on Saturday, following a meeting with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Meanwhile, Mr. Guterres appealed for the UN’s global compacts on Migration and Refugees to be fully implemented.
The UN Refugee Agency UNHCR says that Sub-Saharan Africa hosts more than 26 per cent of the world’s refugee population. 18 million people in the region are of concern to UNHCR, with conflicts and ongoing crises in the Central African Republic (CAR), Nigeria and South Sudan, as well as Burundi and Yemen, driving large increases in the numbers of refugees and displaced people.
Mr. Guterres struck a generally positive note in the press conference, pointing to recent peace deals and conflict de-escalation across Africa. He cited the reconciliation between Ethiopia and Eritrea; the establishment of peace agreements in South Sudan; and elections in Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mali, that took place in a peaceful context.
The Secretary-General went on to say that the strategic cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations is a fundamental asset for the work of the United nations in the world.
The combined efforts of the African Union and the UN, he said, are producing results in conflict resolution and the prevention of conflicts, and Africa is seeing a “wind of hope” that can be extended to other parts of the world.
However, he went on to say that there cannot be peace without development, and that the international community must show more political will in this area, particularly in climate action, and show ambition for mitigation, adaptation, and finance. “We are losing the race with climate change and this can be a disaster for Africa and for the world. Africa will pay an even higher price because of the dramatic impacts on the continent,” said Guterres.
The speakers at the opening event of the meeting of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union will be; Mr. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda and Chairperson of the African Union; Mr. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt; Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission; Mr. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary General of the Arab League; Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations and Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine.