UN secretary warns climate change could be catastrophic for Africa

The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres attends a plenary session at the 49th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 24, 2019. EPA-EFE/FILE/LAURENT GILLIERON

Addis Ababa, Feb 9 (efe-epa).- The Secretary-General of the United Nations warned Saturday of the disastrous effect climate change could have on the African continent if urgent action was not adopted by the international community.

Antonio Guterres attended a joint press conference in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat to call for urgent global climate action and praised the African continent on how it was dealing with migration flows.

«We are losing the race for climate change and this can be a disaster for Africa and for the world,» Guterres said. «Africa will pay even more of a price because of the dramatic impact in the continent even though Africa doesn’t contribute much to the warming of the planet.»

«We need to tell the international community (that) we need more political will in development cooperation,» he stressed. «There is no peace without development, more political will in the ambition of climate change, ambition for mitigation, for adaptation and for finance.»

Moments before their joint press conference, Guterres and Mahamat held a meeting to discuss the cooperation between the UN and the AU, in the wake of the AU summit that started Thursday and was scheduled to end on Monday.

Guterres paid tribute to Africa, saying the continent had become an exemplary model for the whole world with regards to its management of the migrant crisis.

«I want to say that I was High Commissioner for Refugees for 10 years. Africa is a continent where borders are open for refugees, where refugees are protected,» The UN high official said. «It is an example for the world.»

Guterres commended the African continent saying it was projecting an image of leadership with how it had addressed migrant flows adding that, contrary to what many think, there were more African migrants in other African countries than in Europe.

For his part, Mahamat underscored the need for global cooperation regarding issues of migrants and refugees, considering that the Intergovernmental Conference of Regular Migration held in Morocco last December would be an important step for the international community.

«No country or region can tackle the issue of forced migration alone; it is a global phenomenon that requires concerted global action,» Mahamat said. «But an African focus is important in our discussion today; not least because the African continent hosts one of the largest numbers of displaced persons in the world.»

NGO Oxfam warned in October that global warming would plunge millions of people in Africa into hunger and poverty unless governments in the continent took preventive actions.

African heads of states are scheduled to meet Sunday at the AU’s 32nd ordinary summit to discuss several topics, including the situation of refugees and internally displaced within their continent and the creation of a so-called African Passport.