The European Business Council for Africa

Dear Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to have the chance to address you today at this Extraordinary Humanitarian Summit. I regret that I cannot be with you in person in Malabo.

Since I welcomed the leaders of the African Union three months ago in Brussels, the unthinkable has happened. Russia launched a war of conquest against Ukraine. It is flattening Ukrainian cities. Destroying farmland and crops. And killing thousands of civilians. Russia is bombing warehouses filled with wheat for export. It is blocking the sea routes for grain export. The consequences of Russian aggression span well beyond Europe, as you know.

This war is threatening food security across the world. Ukraine is the granary of the world. It alone exports half the world's sunflower oil. And provides over half of the World Food Programme's wheat supply. While the Russian army is destroying fields, storage depots, ports and railways. The EU carefully works to avoid that our sanctions hamper Russia's food production capacities. We provide Ukrainian farmers with fuel, fertilizers and seeds. We are building solidarity lanes to help export Ukraine's agricultural goods to Africa and elsewhere. And we are helping to boost food production in Africa. The speed at which we act now will determine the scale of the problem in a few months.

But we also see that in many regions food security is already critical. Like in the Sahel region, Lake Chad and the Horn of Africa – where we need to step up our support to humanitarian partners on the ground. Recent pledging events in Paris and Geneva totalled nearly four billion euros, and half of these pledges are coming from the EU and its Member States. Brussels will do even more.

The European Union is committing further financial support to our African partners. With an immediate focus on addressing food security. And a long-term focus on the root causes of insecurity. Because Africa and Europe have a shared hope and mission for sustainable development and peace.

I want to thank the African Union for organising this important summit.

And I want to thank all humanitarian and aid workers for their truly admirable work.

The way forward is not always clear. It is easy to be disillusioned. It is much harder to be hopeful, especially when we know how difficult change can be. But this is the path we have chosen and it is the right path and we will walk forward, not back.

Thank you.