By Alf Soninke
President Adama Barrow returned to Banjul on Sunday from Malabo Equatorial Guinea, where he held a tete-a-tete at the presidential palace for about an hour with his host, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
According to GRTS television news, the two leaders then presided at the signing by their foreign ministers of four cooperation agreements.
These are on the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two states, a cooperation framework agreement, and a memorandum of understanding on diplomatic consultations between their two foreign ministries.
Also, an agreement on reciprocal retention of visas for holders of diplomatic and service passports. The two governments will exchange delegations as soon as feasible to implement the agreements, reported GRTS.
It should be noted that former President Yahya Jammeh now lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea.
President Barrow, according to the GRTS news report, speaking at the ceremony where the two sides also signed a joint communique, “expressed his appreciation to Obiang for his constructive role in resolving the impasse in 2016, and described him as a great pan African
a leader with a strong vision for development and peace.”
It would be recalled that State House did announce that Barrow will proceed after the AU summit on a two-day “working visit”, which GRTS television’s Monday night’s newscast labeled a “state visit”.
As for what the AU itself called an “extraordinary humanitarian summit and pledging conference”, President Barrow in his speech delivered at the summit meeting, which he attended in Malabo earlier, announced a pledge of $100,000 as Gambia’s contribution to the AU’s humanitarian Fund.
Barrow in an interview with GRTS television on arrival at the airport described the summit as “timely”.
He said the unconstitutional change of government in Africa, terrorism and humanitarian crises which themes were discussed at the summit are pertinent issues on which African leaders need to consult.
Meanwhile, in his statement delivered during the opening ceremony for the AU summit, Moussa Faki Mahamat Chairperson of the AU Commission spoke of a “humanitarian summit coupled with a pledging conference.”
Mahamat commended President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo for hosting the summit, recalling that Nguema was in 2019 dubbed “the Champion of the theme of the year – devoted to refugees, returnees, internally displaced persons and the search for lasting solutions to forced displacement in Africa.”
According to Mahamat, humanitarian emergencies in Africa are numerous, diverse, geographically dispersed, and a permanent source of concern.
He shared figures and statistical data from UN specialized agencies relating to the five regions of the continent.
“In the 15 most affected member states, 113 million people are waiting for emergency assistance in 2022.
“East Africa and the Horn of Africa are currently hosting 4.5 million refugees, more than 75 percent of whom have been affected by the reduction in food rations in 2021.
“Over the past two years in this same region food requirements have increased by 70 percent and more than 25 million people are in a situation of food insecurity.
“In West and Central Africa, there are 58 million people in a state of food insecurity. This is the highest level of food insecurity since 2016.
“There are two million internally displaced persons in Central Africa. This figure represents a 30 percent increase compared to 2020 and does not comprise the five million displaced persons in the Lake Chad Basin.
“In North Africa, more than 14 million people need humanitarian assistance.”
Mahamat also mentioned the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and “pressure exerted on the planet earth in the name of the quest for economic growth and whose effects are reflected in climate change manifested through prolonged drought and uncontrollable floods.”