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Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Vaccines, African debt, and GERD: El Sisi’s 2021 UN General Assembly address

El Sisi speaks to UN assembly on vaccines, African debt, and GERD: Covid-19, the GERD crisis, climate change and debt relief for developing countries all came up in President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s address to the UN General Assembly in New York yesterday (watch, runtime: 13:47). Speaking to the assembly via video conference, El Sisi called on international lenders to alleviate the debt burden on developing countries, urging financial institutions to facilitate borrowing by providing concessional financing and encouraging investment. Noting the IMF’s recent USD 650 bn SDR issuance, he said ways should be explored to use those resources to serve development needs.

On vaccine inequality, El Sisi said that the fair distribution of vaccines needs to be a top priority, pointing to Africa’s particular need. He said Egypt has been keen to localize the production of coronavirus vaccines, both for domestic use and export to the continent.

And, of course, GERD: The president reiterated that Egypt remains committed to a fair, balanced and legally-binding agreement on Ethiopia’s hydropower mega-dam, but said that Ethiopia’s refusal to negotiate in good faith is posing a “widespread threat to the security and stability of the region.” Egypt and Sudan earlier this year tried to force a resolution on the issue at the UN Security Council, but world powers declined to take sides in the dispute and urged the continuation of the current African Union-led process.

Other highlights: El-Sisi spoke on climate change, again plugging Egypt’s interest in hosting the UN’s COP27 climate summit next year. He also called to consolidate the ceasefire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and urged member states to donate aid to Palestinian humanitarian and reconstruction efforts. On terrorism, he asked all states to abide by international law and UNSC rulings, adding that countries that harbor foreign fighters should be held accountable. He also defended Egypt’s policy on human rights.

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