UN chief on Ramadan solidarity visit to Africa

FILE PHOTO: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends a past press conference on May 12, 2021. (POOL / MAXIM SHEMETOV via CFP)
FILE PHOTO: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. (Photo via CFP)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will begin a “Ramadan solidarity visit” on Saturday to Senegal, Niger and Nigeria, said his deputy spokesman on Friday.

Guterres will meet and share an Iftar dinner with President Macky Sall of Senegal, who assumed the presidency of the African Union earlier this year. He will also take part in Eid celebrations with President Mohamed Bazoum of Niger and he is scheduled to meet President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, said Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesman.

Monday is Eid al-Fitr, a religious holiday at the end of the holy month of Ramadan that is celebrated by Muslims worldwide.

In the three countries, Guterres will have meetings with senior government officials as well as civil society representatives, including women, youth groups and religious leaders. He will meet families deeply affected by violence and instability in the Sahel, including people internally displaced and refugees, said Haq.

The UN chief will also see first-hand the impact of climate change on vulnerable communities and will assess progress and challenges to the COVID-19 recovery, he said.

Guterres began annual Ramadan solidarity visits when he was UN High Commissioner for Refugees. He is resuming this tradition, which was interrupted by COVID-19.

The Africa trip follows his visits to Moscow and Kiev to push for peace in Ukraine. Guterres met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow and with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.