Africa essential for sustainable development, poverty reduction and peace
25 May 2021 - Africa's rich, diverse cultural and natural heritage, is important for sustainable development, poverty reduction, and "building and maintaining peace", the UN chief said on Tuesday, marking the international day celebrating the continent.
"This year's Africa Day highlights arts, culture and heritage as levers for building the Africa we want", Secretary-General António Guterres said in his commemorative message.
Africa Day marks the 1963 founding of the Organization of African Unity, now known as the African Union (AU), and provides an annual opportunity to reflect on the challenges and achievements of the Governments and peoples of the continent.
COVID-19 has triggered a global recession that has "exposed deep-seated inequalities and vulnerabilities", according to the UN chief – endangering hard-won development gains throughout Africa and beyond.
The pandemic has also heightened the drivers of conflict by increasing inequalities and revealing the fragility of governance in many nations – particularly in delivering basic services, such as healthcare, education, electricity, water and sanitation.
The impact of the pandemic has also been exacerbated by the climate crisis, which disproportionately affects developing nations.
Currently, there is a "profound imbalance" in vaccine distribution among countries, with the latest figures revealing that African countries have received just two per cent of vaccines, said the top UN official.
To end the pandemic, support economic recovery and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he stressed the need for "equitable and universal access to COVID-19 vaccines".
The UN chief upheld that Africa Day can "can provide a strong foundation for inclusive economic progress as the continent strives to meet the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic".
"On this Africa Day, I renew my call to developed nations to stand in solidarity with Africa", concluded the Secretary-General.
Support the continent
Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, a former senior government minister in Nigeria, observed that Africa Day "comes at a difficult time as we are countering the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences with its acute impacts on Africa".
She also noted that Africa has experienced a slow-down in economic growth, which is expected to increase only three per cent this year, "about half the world's average".
"While world leaders must continue to support our AU partners, we also call upon African leaders to further their efforts in establishing good governance, fighting corruption and supporting Africa's youth", she said.
Social media tributes
Other senior UN voices marked the day on Twitter.
"We celebrate the generous hospitality given in many African communities to refugees and displaced people, and we pledge to support them as they share limited shelter, food, services and resources with those fleeing war and violence" tweeted UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
The UN health agency chief, Tedros Ghebreyesus wished a happy Africa Day to his "brothers and sisters across the continent", with the hope of working "even harder together to make Africa a more prosperous, peaceful, healthier, safer and fairer place for our children!".
And the UN refugee agency in the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region offered "a huge thank you" to citizens there for generously opening their doors to refugees.
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