Speaking on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly in New York, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres noted how many developing countries are some of the smallest polluters but are facing the biggest losses as a result of climate change. His remarks seemed to be referencing many countries in Africa.
“People crushed under the grinding wheels of poverty, people starving in a world of plenty, children denied a seat in the classroom, families fleeing conflict, seeking a better life, parents watching helplessly as their children die of preventable disease,” said Guterres.
The U.N. chief billed the Climate Ambition Summit as a no-nonsense forum. He made clear that only leaders who put forth concrete plans to achieve net-zero greenhouse emissions would be invited.
Libya's Minister of Youth, Fatalla AF Elzuni, spoke a week and a half after what many weather experts say were climate-change induced floods that devastated the eastern coastal city of Derna. He appealed for "the world to live up to its responsibility to Libya” to help with the aftermath of the disaster.
Elzuni said it is necessary to hold free elections in Libya, a country that’s been bogged down in civil war and political instability for years.
During his speech to the General Assembly Thursday, South Sudan President Salva Kiir acknowledged “challenges” facing his country since its independence in 2011. But he failed to mention the alleged widespread corruption in government, continued deadly inter-communal violence, or the government’s slow progress in carrying out the 2018 revitalized agreement.
Kiir reiterated his commitment to expediting the deal’s implementation as he has many times before. Kiir also used his speech to urge the U.N. Security Council to lift its arms embargo on South Sudan.
“We call upon the U.N. to lift the arms embargo imposed on us to aid peace implementation and to secure the elections. The arms embargo has impeded the implementation of security arrangements because ... the graduation of unified forces ... cannot happen without arms,” said Kiir.
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s president said wants the world’s second-largest U.N. peacekeeping force to move up its departure from the country, beginning this December, saying it has failed to rein in conflicts in the eastern part of the country.
In his address to the General Assembly, President Felix Tshisekedi accused the 17,000-strong peacekeeping mission, known as MONUSCO, of being unable to confront the conflicts in the eastern DRC that are “tearing apart” the Central African nation.
Tshisekedi also called for expanding the U.N. Security Council seats to Africa as a single body, like the European Union.
He said the African people do not often understand the "double standards" at work, the "ambiguities and procrastination" of the U.N., especially on the Security Council when political and security crises are "rampaging through Africa."
This report was compiled by VOA's Carol Van Dam Falk.