A.U. Leaders Meet in Malabo at First Extraordinary Humanitarian Summit

African Union (A.U) leaders are meeting in the Equatorial Guinean capital, Malabo, for two summits as the continent contends with humanitarian crises, terrorism and military coups.

More than 20 heads of state as well as donors are expected in Malabo, to raise funds at the A.U.’s first “extraordinary humanitarian summit” taking place this Friday.

According to A.U. Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, 113 million Africans need urgent humanitarian assistance this year, including 48 million refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people (IDPs).

The A.U. said 15 particularly hard-hit countries required urgent aid, with climate shocks and conflicts rauiring humanitarian assistance to increase “exponentially”.

The war in Ukraine has also exacerbated food shortages.

Of the more than 30 million internally displaced Africans, more than 10 million are children aged under 15, it added, pointing to inter-ethnic conflict in certain regions plus food insecurity.

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The UN Food and Agriculture Organization says around 282 million of Africa’s 1.4 billion inhabitants are under-fed – an increase of 49 million compared to 2019.

Senegal’s foreign minister, Aïssatou Tall Sall stated that the continent’s humanitarian situation is “alarming”.

With all the refugees and IDPs “we see the most urgent thing is to find solutions here and now,” she said.

There is talk of creating an African humanitarian aid agency and setting up a special emergency fund based on contributions from each African state.

A declaration to that effect is due to be submitted to heads of state on Saturday.

A second meeting on Saturday will tackle “terrorism and unconstitutional changes”.

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Countries like Libya, Mozambique, Somalia, the Sahel region, West Africa’s Lake Chad basin and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are all facing rebellions and jihadist insurgencies.

AU chief Mahamat called terrorism a “cancer” progressively infecting the whole continent with painful economic and security consequences.

Military coups in Mali, Guinea, Sudan and Burkina Faso over the past two years have ousted elected leaders and set lengthy or no timetables for a return to civilian rule.

The moves have sparked condemnation and sanctions from regional bodies, the EU and Western capitals, with the A.U. leaders suspending the four countries until power is handed back to civilians.

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Mahamat called the transition periods proposed by military juntas “sources of dissension and occasionally of tension” not conducive to the stability of those states or their neighbours.

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