Statement by Mercy Corps on U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken first official visit to Africa
This week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is traveling to Kenya, Nigeria, and Senegal to advance U.S. - Africa collaboration on many shared global priorities, including tackling climate change, combatting COVID-19, and promoting peace and security
Mercy Corps' Regional Director for Africa, Sean Granville-Ross, says:
As U.S. Secretary Blinken makes his first official visit to Africa, Mercy Corps calls on the United States to address the plight of millions of vulnerable people in Africa already suffering from the confluence of hunger, COVID-19, and rising insecurity. Under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 1 in 5 Africans don't have enough to eat. Communities will remain trapped in jeopardy until we get to the root causes of rising food insecurity, notably climate-driven conflict and the pandemic's economic fallout.
Vaccine equity should be paramount in the discussions on mitigating the spread of the virus in Africa, which is vital for both health and economic recovery. As of October 2021, just 6% of the continent's population is fully vaccinated, compared to a 40% vaccination rate in over 70% of high-income countries. According to the WHO Africa, only five of Africa's 54 nations are on track to hit the year-end target of fully vaccinating 40% of their populations. To combat COVID-19, the U.S. must redouble efforts to expand vaccine access and distribution in Africa, strengthen health systems, and facilitate procurement.
We see every day in our work how climate change is multiplying the threats people face. Particularly in rural and fragile areas, millions are vulnerable to increased food insecurity, violent conflicts, adverse health impacts, and economic loss due to harsher droughts, extreme weather, and competition for increasingly scarce resources. We urge Secretary Blinken to leverage the momentum generated by the recent COP26 summit and President Biden's commitment to American leadership in the areas of climate adaptation and resilience to solidify agreements on adaptation priority areas and energy resource allocation in Africa.