Magazine article UN Chronicle

Urgent Efforts Launched to Combat 'Acute Deprivation' in African Countries

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Urgent Efforts Launched to Combat 'Acute Deprivation' in African Countries

Article excerpt

/Widespread drought, severe food shortages, epidemics, inadequate water supplies, weak infrastructures, external destabilization and civil unrest had "exacerbated the negative impact of the international economic environment" on Africa, he told correspondents atat his traditional year-end press conference at Headquarters on 21 December. /"These grim realities are imposed on long-term structural problems which in recent years have been reflected in slow or negative growth rates and severe balance-of-payments problems". He would do his utmost, he said, to mobilize the international community in "more coherent and concerted action" to help these countries. /Grave food shortages in 24 African nations, as detaied by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), were of particular concern. /Mr. Perez de Cuellar underscored the urgency of the situation in statements made at two special meetings held at Headquarters on 9 January, one for African nations and one for potential donor countries and on 16 January at the Fourth Islamic Summit Conference, in Casablanca, Morocco, just prior to his trip to Mali, Niger, Benin, Nigeria, Togo, Ivory Coast, Upper Volta and Senegal. /Special Meetings: The Secretary-General delivered nearly-identical statements at the special meetings. /Invited to the donor meeting were representatives of countries of the Organisation for Economic Assistance, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and some other interested nations. /In describing the situation, he referred to problems of displaced persons, refugees and repatriates; low commodity prices; unfavourable terms of trade and heavy debt burdens; declining per capita incomes; severe shortage of foreign exchange and domestic budget constraints; and insufficient flows of official development assistance. /"All of this translates quite simply into conditions of acute deprivation", he told both groups. …

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