The United Arab Emirates thanks China for organizing this open debate. This is an opportunity to collectively enhance our understanding of the pandemic’s impact on conflict-affected countries in Africa, to discuss methods of cooperation to jointly address the root causes of conflict, and curb this pandemic.
Since the onset of COVID-19, the pandemic has severely challenged healthcaresystems around the world. It has hindered government capacities to deliver services, and the crisis has been particularly acute in already-fragile states and situations of armed conflict. The UAE is alarmed by the recent report from the WHO that less than 2% of the COVID-19 vaccine doses administered globally have been in Africa. The UAE believes that communities, particularly those affected by conflict, must be supported by robust healthcare systems. This is more critical than ever in the face of COVID-19.
The pandemic is also now a key contributor to the economic and development challenges that are root causes of conflict globally, including in African countries on the Council’s agenda. The UAE has been particularly concerned by African Union estimates that the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to destroy nearly 20 million jobs, both in the formal and informal sectors. Unemployment has disproportionately affected youth whose level of unemployment is twice that of older adults, and especially relevant fact given that Africa is the world’s youngest continent. The UAE believes in the importance of investing in youth and accordingly announced in February 2020 that it will invest USD 500 million in African economies with a focus on youth and digitization through the “UAE Consortium for Africa”. The UAE is committed to fostering opportunity, particularly for young people so that they may look forward with optimism to a future that is firmly in their control.
Terrorism and violence also continue to destabilize many countries around the world, including in the African continent. The Sahel region continues to be threatened by terrorist groups and intercommunal violence. The UAE is committed to strengthening collective efforts to boost security and stability in the Sahel and continues to support the G5 Sahel Joint Force, including through the College of Defense in Nouakchott tasked with training military officers from G5 Sahel countries.
The UAE recognizes that Africa is extremely diverse and that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions, but we highlight the following four collective actions that have a track record of addressing the root causes of conflict in fragile regions.
First, we need to overcome the pandemic. In line with these efforts, we need to improve accessibility of vaccines, including through decreasing cost and strengthening logistics to reach remote areas. The UAE has undertaken a number of initiatives in this regard. The UAE recently announced a contribution of vaccines and logistics support to COVAX, and the Emirati company DP World has partnered with UNICEF to support UNICEF’s lead role in procuring and supplying 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines and auxiliary vaccination supplies on behalf of the COVAX Facility.
The UAE also continues to send medical assistance to more than 25 countries in the African continent, with more than 30 flights carrying 259 tons of medical supplies deployed so far. In addition, the UAE has been proud to support the UN’s global relief efforts, hosting the UN’s largest logistics hub in Dubai, which was responsible for distributing some 80% of the UN’s total personal protective equipment for Member States in the early stages of the pandemic.
Second, investment in development is important to achieving peace. That is why we need to rapidly scale up solutions for inclusive climate adaptation and concentrate UN development efforts in fragile regions. As part of this work, we must continue to help farmers to cope with droughts, extreme weather, and altered seasons through new technology and approaches. To support such work, the UAE has joined with a number of countries to launch the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate, which catalyzes public investment in climate-smart agriculture and national agricultural research and extension services. The UAE is also a supporter of the FAO’s “Hand-in-Hand” initiative to provide agricultural technical advisory services in fragile settings.
Thirdly, we need to continue to strengthen cooperation with regional and sub-regional organizations in the continent such as the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities, as well as its Member States, to address the root causes of conflict. The strategic partnership between the United Nations and the African Union is of paramount importance in addressing complex peace and security challenges in Africa.
And lastly, all of these efforts are futile if women and girls are left behind. Their specific needs must be taken into account through gender analysis and their involvement in decision-making – whether in regard to immunization, socioeconomic development, climate security, or conflict prevention and resolution. As we aim for more peaceful and stable societies in the long run, we must secure equal access to education and healthcare for women and girls, as well as ensuring their full, equal and meaningful inclusion in all matters relevant to peace and security. In this regard, one of the main objectives of the UAE’s Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Women, Peace and Security Initiative, is to boost the participation of women in the security sector. Over 100 women from the African continent have already been trained through this initiative.
In conclusion, the UAE takes this opportunity to renew its commitment to working with partners to maintain international peace and security in Africa, particularly during the UAE Security Council term in 2022-2023.