African leaders speaking at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York laid out their case for how the destabilized global environment is impacting their nations, with food insecurity due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict a priority.
The leaders of Ghana, Nigeria, and Rwanda were among those speaking at Wednesday’s session on Ukraine, which included an address from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to implement a five-point “formula for peace” in order to end the fighting.
“We must finally recognize that Russia is a State sponsor of terrorism at all levels,” Zelenskyy said, calling for sanctions, visa restrictions, and a tribunal to ensure justice against Russian offenses. “What is not in our formula is neutrality.”
But many African leaders have held to a more neutral position on the conflict, and their priorities focused on impacts affecting the continent.
“Every bullet, every bomb, every shell that hits a target in Ukraine, hits our pockets and our economies in Africa,” said President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana. He broadened his comments to critique the global financial system’s failure to secure access to needed funding in developing nations.
His Ivorian counterpart, President Alassane Ouattara, noted that just 17% of Ukrainian wheat exports have been destined for Africa, despite a July agreement that reopened ports for export.
In all, a dozen African leaders addressed the UNGA during the session, highlighting the impacts of COVID-19 and climate change, as well as the Russia-Ukraine conflict and broader global insecurity.
President Muhammadu Buhari called for climate justice for African nations experiencing disproportionate effects of climate change caused by the greenhouse‑gas emissions of wealthy nations and industrial economies.
Buhari also drew on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and how it requires global cooperation.
“With COVID-19, we saw very clearly how states tried to meet the challenge of a threat that could not be contained within national borders,” he said.
Image: President Muhammadu Buhari