SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS ON ‘GROUP OF EIGHT’,
AFRICAN LEADERS TO ADDRESS AFRICA’S FOOD SECURITY, HIV/AIDS CHALLENGES
NEW YORK, 2 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the Group of Eight-New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Dinner in Evian, France, on 1 June:
We were talking this afternoon about the vital importance of the eighth Millennium Development Goal: to “develop a global partnership for development”. Clearly, NEPAD and the Group of 8's support for it are at the very heart of that partnership. You got off to a good start at Kananaskis last year, and I'm very glad to see that both sides are sustaining their attention to the partnership this year.
Unfortunately, one still cannot talk about Africa without referring to the crises and conflicts that, in some parts of the continent, still make it almost impossible to tackle any of the other formidable challenges that we face.
The situation in Côte d'Ivoire remains a source of deep concern. Fortunately, both France and the countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have deployed peacekeeping troops and are working very closely together to stabilize the situation. The United Nations will do the same shortly.
International support is also essential if the dire situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is to be brought under control. I am grateful that many of you will participate in the multinational force that will be deployed shortly, and France will be in the lead.
We must put these conflicts behind us -– not only because of the misery they cause directly, but also because they are a distraction from the many other serious threats that Africa faces, such as water, education and environmental protection. Tonight, I would like to stress two issues: food security and HIV/AIDS. Let me start with the former.
Food Security -- In southern Africa, we have made good progress in averting what was threatening to become a real calamity. This is not to say that all suffering was avoided; emergency food needs are immense. But the worst predictions did not come true. Still, we are now seeing a similar scenario unfold in Ethiopia and Eritrea, where more than 12 million people are in need of food aid and 300,000 tonnes of food are needed.
The World Food Programme (WFP) is doing everything it can to address the immediate needs of the region. But if we don't want food shortages and famines to recur, we must have a long-term strategy that emphasizes investments in rural infrastructure and agricultural research to increase productivity, and efforts to improve soil and water management, and to develop disease-resistant crops.
I hope that you, the Group of 8 leaders, who have been generous in responding to Africa's food security challenges, and you, the leaders of NEPAD, will address this situation with the long term in view.
HIV/AIDS -- I don't need to tell this audience about the devastating economic and social impact that the AIDS epidemic is having in many parts of Africa.
I would like to acknowledge the recent dramatic increases in AIDS funding that Presidents Bush, Chirac and others around the table have made possible. Those efforts are at last putting some real resources behind the comprehensive global strategy, which puts equal emphasis on prevention and treatment.
I hope you will direct a significant part of that new AIDS money to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Fund is an important vehicle that will allow us to make the best use of the resources that are available, and ensure that all countries in need can benefit. Our challenge is to ensure that it has enough resources to carry out its vital work. Most of the money from the initial round of pledges has been committed. The time for additional funding has arrived, and I hope that you, the Group of 8 leaders, who played such an important role in getting the Fund up and running, will now endow it with the further resources it needs to achieve our shared goals.
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