UN pledges support for Africa's integration

Accra- Ghana (PANA) -- As the 9th ordinary summit of the African Union (AU) opened Sunday in Accra, Ghana, the United Nations has pledged its support for Africa's efforts at full political and economic integration.
The summit, being attended by some 40 Heads of state and government, is devoted to debating the prospects for the establishment of a union government in Africa to accelerate the full integration of the continent.
"The focus of this summit, on the proposed Union Government for Africa, is a timely one," said the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Asha-Rose Migiro.
"The United Nations is a long-standing supporter of regional integration in Africa.
We remain committed to assisting this process," said Migiro, who made history as the first African woman to address an AU summit on behalf of the UN.
The former Tanzanian Foreign Minister, who took office as Deputy Secretary-General of the UN 1 Feb 2007, also called for a stronger collaboration among African nations and also between Africa and its international partners.
"We need strong partnerships to reach the time-bound targets in the Millennium Development Goals.
We need stronger partnerships to resolve and manage Africa's conflicts, and it is through strong partnership that Africa's capacities can be strengthened," she said.
Migiro said while Africa had made some progress over the years, the continent was still lagging behind the rest of the world in achieving common development objectives because of 'daunting' challenges like rising poverty and high child and maternal mortality rates.
On the MDGs, she said this year marked the midpoint between the adoption of the Goals and the target date of 2015, noting: "That makes it especially important for there to be more resolute efforts, and deeper partnerships, to reduce poverty, to address the needs in health, education and other sectors, and to promote gender equality.
" The UN official also dwelled on the lingering crisis in Sudan's Western Darfur region, where over 200,000 people have been killed and millions displaced during years of internecine fighting.
"Nowhere are Africa's peace and security challenges more evident today than in Darfur, where conflict continues to hasten unconscionable toll on men, women and children.
"The tragic cycle of violence in Darfur has been allowed to continue far too long," she said, while calling for an urgent deployment of the historic hybrid AU-UN force to redress the situation.
On HIV/AIDS, Migiro said a successful fight against the pandemic was a pre-requisite for meeting most of the other MDGs.
"In particular, we must address the root causes of the spread among women and girls," she said, lamenting how women bear a disproportionate part of the AIDS burden in Africa.

01 july 2007 13:34:00




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