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America has changed the lives of thousands fleeing violence, disease, others – Amb Thomas-Greenfield 

THE United States Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Linda Thomad-Greenfield returned to Washington after a trip to some African countries. She spoke with reporters on her experience. Excerpts: 

My trip 

Last week I had a very productive week-long trip to Ghana, Mozambique, Kenya, and Somalia.  I had four overarching goals for this trip: to strengthen our partnership with current and former UN Security Council members; follow up on our priorities from the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, priorities such as climate change; I had an opportunity to shine a spotlight on humanitarian issues, particularly famine; and continue our consultations on UN reform to ensure the UN is fit for purpose.

In Ghana I met with the foreign minister, Shirley Botchwey.  We discussed important regional security issues, how we can advance UN peacekeeping in the region, and what inclusive UN reform would look like.

In Mozambique I met with the foreign minister, minister of foreign affairs and cooperation, to discuss Mozambique’s historic first term on the UN Security Council.  We discussed how we can use the council as well as our bilateral relationship to advance shared priorities like the rights and leadership of women and girls, and regional security threats.  We talked about tackling climate change, too, as I also volunteered alongside activists and civil society groups to help restore the last remaining coastal mangrove forest in urban Maputo.  Mangrove forests are an important natural defense against the effects of climate change that we must protect.  I also met with UN officials working to build a safer, more peaceful region, as well as members of civil society, entrepreneurs, students, activists, and members of the beloved YALI, Young African Leaders Initiative exchange program.

In Kenya I met with President Ruto as well as other officials.  We discussed ways that we can partner on food security, counterterrorism in the Horn of Africa, and in security.  In addition, I met with officials from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, the World Food Program, UNHCR, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and UNICEF to talk about refugee assistance in Kenya.  And I continued our emphasis on climate change by visiting a state-of-the-art manufacturing and assembly hub for electronic vehicles in Kenya.  I was really, I have to say, impressed with Kenya’s efforts to accelerate a just energy transition and tackle climate change.

In Kenya I also delivered remarks at the office of the International Organization for Migration with a representative from Church World Service about the value of the newly launched Welcome Corps.  When I was working as a refugee coordinator in Africa in the early ’80s and 1990s in Kenya, we simply did not have resources to process more people and give refugees a new home.  By bringing in civil society like Church World Services, we were able to expand the ceiling and bring more vetted African refugees to the United States than ever before.  We changed the lives of thousands upon thousands of families fleeing violence, disease, poverty, and hunger.  Now we’re expanding the circle of helpers.  With the newly created Welcome Corps, private civilians can welcome refugees to the United States and change even more lives, and also making their community stronger.

And finally, in Somalia I had the opportunity to meet with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to discuss the severe drought, as well as a wide range of issues including political reconciliation, threats from al-Shabaab, and how to develop security forces who can assume responsibility for ATMIS, the African Union Transition Mission.  I also met with ATMIS as well as local UN humanitarian and NGO groups to discuss how we can improve their safety and security as they deliver needed humanitarian assistance.

At the end of the trip, I delivered a speech in Mogadishu on how the international community must come together to end famine forever.  I announced over $40 million in new funding from the American people to Somalia to save lives, stave off famine, and meet humanitarian needs.  But the truth is the United States cannot do this alone.  My call is for the UN and for the international community to step up and do more, to be more ambitious, get more resources to those who are in desperate need.

Cabo Delgado

I spent a lot of time on Cabo Delgado when I was there, in discussions with the government as well as the UN and our embassy there on the ground. And in fact, the situation has improved. Working with the Rwandans and other regional forces, they were able to push the terrorists out of the major urban or at least city areas. They are still a threat and they still continue to terrorize people, but we’re – we’ve been able to get in humanitarian assistance. The NGOs are working there, USAID has an extensive program there, and the private sector is slowly going back in.

South Korea in UN 

We have started discussions. As you know, the President announced in September during High-Level Week that we support UN Security Council reform and we support additional permanent members of the Security Council as well as new elected members of the Security Council. We have not stressed or stated what countries that will be other than the fact that we do support new members coming from Africa and Latin America.

Russia and China 

We have pushed hard in the Security Council to produce products condemning the actions of the DPRK. And as you noted, both China and Russia have consistently protected DPRK from the actions of the Security Council. They have the veto power, and they have used that veto power. And unfortunately, the Security Council, the other 13 members of the Security Council, have been consistent and strong in wanting to condemn DPRK, and we will continue to work to do that, particularly as we see more and more tests being done by the DPRK.

Chinese influence in Africa 

Look, we – we’re not asking African countries to choose between their friends and choose who they will partner with. Our message to Africa has been one of our strong partnership, our strong engagement on the continent, and that engagement has been consistent for decades. We’re not new to the African continent; I’m not new to the African continent. As you can see from my bio, I’ve spent most of my career on the continent, including as serving as the assistant secretary of state. So again, our message is about what we do and how strong our engagement is.

In terms of our message on Ukraine and the war in Ukraine, our message is also very consistent: Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine is also an attack on the UN Charter. It is an attack on the sovereignty and independence of a smaller neighbor. And it is important that we stand together, united, and condemn those actions. And we have been successful in the UN General Assembly, getting 141 votes and then 143 later, condemning Russia’s attempt to annex parts of Ukraine.

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