WASHINGTON (March 20, 2014) – On Wednesday, March 19, Africare and its International Board of Counselors hosted Assistant Secretary of African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield at its Washington, D.C. headquarters. In the presence of more than 83 guests, Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield delivered insight into the U.S. government’s vision for its partnership with Africa.
Among the topics discussed were democracy, security and humanitarian work in African countries.
“Our challenge is always trying to balance the near-term and urgent imperatives with our long-term priorities. And for that reason, we must focus on providing support in those areas most critical to stability and growth on the continent; such as promoting strong democratic institutions and building security sector capacity, facilitating economic development, creating lasting connections between the United States and the people of Africa,” said Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield.
Fourteen executive elections are set to take place in Africa in 2014. Additionally, with the upcoming elections in 2015, the African bureau prioritizes supporting African citizens expressing their right to vote and selecting the candidate of their choice.
“To be true to representation of people’s will, elections must be free and fair and transparent. They must be peaceful. People should not be afraid to vote, and people should expect that their votes will count,” said Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield. “That’s what an election means. It means citizens are allowed to cast votes based on their conscience. It means that all their votes are counted, and results are made public in a timely manner and that these results will be accepted.”
Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield noted that Africa is changing. To facilitate healthy transference of power, people too have to change.
“Sometimes new leaders have to come forth. New leaders with new ideas, with new ways of thinking. With an approach that may be a bit different. People want to see those kinds of changes take place,” she said.
Through its bilateral relationships and engagement with the UN Security Council, the United States is focused on enhancing the capabilities of its African partners to respond to, and prevent, crises.
“The AU applauded the U.S. approach to the Central African Republic where just-in-time transport of Rwandan and Burundian forces who joined the African-led international support mission ensured that their valuable peace-keepers were able to mitigate the violence taking place in CAR in December and January,” she said.
As security concerns in Africa grows, humanitarian work falls under the near-term objectives for the African bureau because in so many places, the need for life-changing services are still very critical.
Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield announced that for the first time since the AIDS epidemic struck, the number of Africans infected with HIV decreased, partly due to assistance provided by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program.
“Thanks in large part to support for vaccine research and distribution, and the work of organizations like Africare, child mortality has dropped by nearly a third; maternal mortality by 41 percent over the past 20 years,” she said.
Africare is currently implementing the PEPFAR-funded project, Injongo Yethu, in South Africa. For more information about Africare’s work in South Africa, please visit here.
Listen to Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield’s speech below, or visit http://bit.ly/1dfy1GG.