Speaking in Dakar, the capital of the West African country, Senegal, on his first visit to the continent since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Guterres said, “when discussing the socio-economic situation, it is impossible not to mention the war in Ukraine and its impact on Africa.”
The UN chief made the remarks after meeting the country’s President Macky Sall, who said that the war in Ukraine was “a human tragedy” which can have “a dramatic impact on economies, in particular, those of developing countries.”
The conflict in Ukraine is driving up global food and fuel prices; senior UN officials are concerned that rising costs will push more people into hunger and could lead to political instability and social unrest in some parts of Africa, where food prices have increased by a third since last year.
Before the Russian invasion began in February, the combination of climate change, conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic was already impacting the socio-economic situation in Africa, especially in the Sahel region which includes Senegal.
Earlier Mr. Guterres and President Sall had toured a new hi-tech vaccine production facility, currently being built by the Institut Pasteur in Dakar. When completed, it will be able to produce a range of vaccines including Pfizer-BioNTech, one of the most widely used immunizations against COVID-19. It will also be able to manufacture experimental vaccines against malaria and tuberculosis.
Mr. Guterres added that the world’s “wealthiest countries and pharmaceutical companies should accelerate the donation of vaccines and invest in local production,” of the type seen at the Institut Pasteur facility.