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On Africa Day, UN officials urge support for continent’s development

On Africa Day, UN officials urge support for continent’s development

To mark Africa Day, United Nations officials today called for bolstered international cooperation to allow the continent to achieve development goals.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commended efforts Africa has made towards its own renewal, including progress realized through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, the Pan-African Parliament and the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council.

“But I also share Africa’s pain and frustration at the persisting and widespread suffering on the continent,” he said. “Extreme poverty – together with lack of access to basic education, health care and adequate nutrition – continues to prevent millions of talented, promising young people in Africa from fulfilling their potential.”

The Secretary-General also noted the devastation wreaked by the spread of HIV/AIDS and how the disease reverses the gains made towards development.

“We welcome the important steps made towards consolidating peace in Africa, including the historic, democratic elections held in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the progress achieved in the Côte d’Ivoire peace process,” he said.

At the same time, he pointed out that there are still hotspots on the continent where armed conflicts destroy civilians’ lives, in particular Somalia and the Darfur region of Sudan.

Mr. Ban called for bolstered global efforts – including “more and better aid, debt cancellation and fairer trade” – to allow Africa to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of eight targets for slashing social and economic ills by 2015.

Lauding Africa’s numerous contributions to the UN, Mr. Ban reaffirmed the world body’s support for the AU.

“I also pledge the strong commitment of the United Nations to serve as Africa’s partner in our efforts to bring peace where this is war, prosperity where there is poverty and hope where there is despair,” he asserted.

General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa noted that 25 May is marked each year in remembrance of the historic commitment made by Africa’s leaders in 1963 to secure the continent’s independence in the framework of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).

“The transformation of the OAU into a dynamic African Union is a reflection of the continent’s political maturity and determination to assume greater responsibility for its own destiny,” she said. “If fully supported, Africa can develop its rich potential and free its people from abject poverty, disease and political instability.”

The President encouraged African States to continue on the path of progress, stressing that sustainable peace and development as well as respect for human rights and the rule of law are indispensable.

“The magnitude of the challenges Africa faces is overwhelming. It is our moral obligation to ensure that this burden is not Africa’s alone,” she declared.