Opening remarks by the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, on behalf of the United Nations Secretary-General at the Extraordinary Humanitarian Summit and the African Union Donors’ Conference – World


Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, May 27, 2022

As delivered

Excellencies, Honorable Heads of State, Heads of Government, Ambassadors, Leaders of Africa, Leaders of the International Community,

Thank you very much for this invitation addressed to my Secretary General, whom I represent here today.

He and I would like to thank you for the invitation to this extraordinary humanitarian summit and this donors’ conference. And of course it is a special privilege for me to speak after such dignitaries, our host HE Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea and Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission . It is an honor of which I am very aware.

Let me cut to the chase: we have heard from HE the Chairperson of the African Union Commission some of the shocking statistics that tell us about the plight of so many people in Africa, some of them facing disastrous future, others themselves without a future and all of them need our protection, our help, our solidarity and our respect.

I would just like to add one statistic to the ones we have just heard: we estimate that up to one fifth of the population of Africa is currently malnourished. And this despite all the efforts that all the leaders and governments here present have made to protect, strengthen and develop the great prosperity of this great continent.

So let me cut to the chase, an African Humanitarian Agency is essential, to be discussed, projected and extremely welcome. I hope that the United Nations will also be able to play its part in supporting this important undertaking.

African nations face some of the most difficult challenges in their history. As always, as you have heard from HE the President, many of the struggles facing Africa are being waged by forces far beyond the continent.

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I am appalled, like all of us, by the increasing levels of extreme hunger in the Horn and the Sahel. The costs of conflict are too high for civilians. And let’s be clear, the fallout from Ukraine threatens to reverse decades of development with soaring commodity prices for all.

The continent’s African Humanitarian Agency, for the people of the continent, has all the potential to make a world of difference – in Africa certainly but also beyond.

I am here on behalf of Mr. Antonio Guterres to tell you that the United Nations must stand by your side, are there to help you.

We in the United Nations have – unfortunately – gained decades of experience also responding to humanitarian needs around the world, guided by the well-known principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. We have tools and techniques, partnerships and systems to share.

We want to put this expertise to work for you and we will. But – and this is the main thing but, we look forward to being a partner and learning from your collective experience in developing the best approaches that work not only here on this continent but elsewhere. Learn from your leadership, learn from your experience, learn from your solidarity and how Africans come together in such numbers in an army of humanitarians to protect and serve the people.

Our current mega-crises demand that we not give up development and basic services. And I speak on behalf of the humanitarian community to say that these basic services, this government support, this generosity of communities is the foundation of humanitarian protection and support and that we are here, in our small scale, to assist and contribute to it. Perhaps these threats also offer an opportunity to strengthen social safety nets and resilience, protect the poor and shape long-term policies.

I had the privilege of traveling to northern Kenya a few weeks ago. I witness the effect of successive droughts. This man-made climate threat forces us to listen more carefully to the views of those whose livelihoods are threatened.

We are therefore ready to work with all our partners in governmental and non-governmental organizations, civil society, the private sector and regional organizations, to serve those in need.


The theme of my remarks is simple: many countries in Africa can teach the world a lesson in generosity and solidarity. It’s not new, but it’s perhaps more essential than ever. Many African countries, as you have heard from previous speakers, have hosted refugees and displaced persons even in times of hardship and when resources are limited.

You are never better served than by yourself, as the saying goes. The people of this continent have the skills, motivation and incentive to uplift people. What they expect from us are resources, solidarity and, perhaps most importantly, respect.

A world that has the resources to wage wars must have the means to save lives. These crises and these wars that we see, we must work even more on the common values ​​of humanitarian action but also of solidarity and good governance and a perspective for the future for each family.

I am confident that the African Humanitarian Agency will be a key player in this new endeavor to reverse the threats we all face today.

The United Nations, my Secretary-General, offers its continued support to this Agency, and also more broadly to your societies and your leaders, and hopes to see generous pledges made today, we hope to deliver ours. But above all, we hope to see a continuation of partnership, cooperation and collaboration, which makes us richer in wisdom.

Once again, on behalf of my Secretary-General, thank you very much.


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