Almost half of the planet cannot afford healthy food, the UN Secretary-General warned at a food summit on Thursday. And it seeks to improve global food production and access.
“Food is life, but countries, communities and homes in every corner of the world do not meet this essential need: this human right,” Antonio Guterres said at the annual meeting of the General Assembly. He told the Virtual Food System Summit by his side.
Guterres pointed out that 3 billion people cannot afford nutritious food.
“Every day, hundreds of millions of people sleep hungry. Children are hungry,” he said.
Famines of millions have become a reality in parts of Yemen and Ethiopia, but nearly one-third of total food production is lost or wasted.
Over a year of work, the summit aims to rethink every aspect of food production to make it more environmentally friendly, safe, nutritious and accessible. It is also part of promoting the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, of which “zero hunger” is a top priority.
Pandemics increase challenges
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made this challenge much bigger,” Guterres said. “It deepened inequality and caused the economy to decline. [and] Millions have fallen into extreme poverty. “
The virus was also in the hearts of the leaders who addressed the General Assembly on Thursday, especially the African leaders who made up the majority of the speakers of the day. Due to the pandemic, many appeared in video messages.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a video speech, “It is an accusation against humanity that more than 82% of the world’s vaccinations have been obtained by wealthy countries and less than 1% have been directed to low-income countries.” rice field.
The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 4% of Africa’s population is fully vaccinated.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said in a pre-recorded message that “hoarding and unfair distribution due to uneven vaccination patterns around the world are unacceptable.” “Vaccine nationalism is self-defeating, contrary to the mantra that” no one is safe until everyone is safe. ” Everyone in the world, north or south of the world, rich or poor, young or old, is well worth the access to the vaccine. “
There were also concerns about coup trends in Africa. Last year, military coups occurred in Chad, Mali and Guinea. Sudanese troops said they had subdued the attempted coup this week. And in Tunisia, some claim that President Kais Saied essentially stopped the coup, exercised emergency power, dismissed the prime minister, suspended parliament and strengthened his authority.
Angola President Joan Gonzalves Laurenso said there was not enough reaction from the international community to stop the outbreak of these coups.
“We believe that the international community needs to act with determination and do not simply issue a statement of condemnation to force legally established institutions to regain power.” He told the rally. “Recent examples such as Guinea cannot continue to be successful in Africa and other continents.”
In the Middle East, Iraqi President Balham Sari has expressed concern about terrorism in his country and in larger areas.
“We cannot underestimate the danger posed by terrorism. If we become lazy and distracted by regional conflicts, we simply threaten our people and our security. You will see a clear resurgence of power, “he warned. “Cooperation and solidarity are our only choices in the fight against international terrorism and the groups that support it.”
Other speakers on Thursday included Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz Cannel Bermudes, El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele, and Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
Meanwhile, the intensive diplomatic opportunities offered this week helped ease the rare rifts in US-Franco relations.
French officials resented the security agreement signed between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS) earlier this month. Under this agreement, Australia will receive at least eight nuclear-powered submarines and will be built in Australia using American technology. The agreement came when Australia withdrew from its previous deal with French submarines worth tens of billions of dollars.
A conference call between President Joe Biden and President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday and a face-to-face meeting between their top diplomats at the end of the New York General Assembly on Thursday calms Paris and rebuilds confidence. Seems to have helped a lot.
VOA’s Chris Hannas contributed to this report.