The British prime minister on Friday announced over £370 million ($454 million) for global food security this year and deplored the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on global food supplies.
“One of the greatest affronts to everything we stand for, including good governance and rule of law, is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Putin’s blockage of ports that would otherwise be shipping food for the world’s poorest people,” Boris Johnson said at the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Rwanda’s capital Kigali.
“We will invest over £370 million in global food security this year, including £130 million to the World Food Program. We want to work alongside our Commonwealth friends to understand your priorities and to deliver joint solutions,” he said.
Johnson also urged the Commonwealth countries to enroll girls in school and empower them to play their part in the economy when they leave school.
“If I could imagine the silver bullet that will solve an array of problems and transform countless lives it will be to give every girl in the world the chance to go to school,” he said.
Held under the theme “Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming,” the heads of governments from 54 Commonwealth countries are discussing ways how the contemporary Commonwealth can transform societies.
Johnson, meanwhile, handed over the baton as Commonwealth Chair-in-Office to Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, noting that “for all the differences between us, we are united by an invisible thread of shared values, history, and friendship.”
“Over the Queen’s 70 years of service, the Commonwealth has grown in number, and scope of ambition. The fact CHOGM 2022 is in Rwanda, with no historic connection to the British Empire, expresses our choice to reimagine a Commonwealth for a changing world,” Kagame told the gathering.
Rwanda became a member of the grouping in 2009. While it is an association of former British colonies, Rwanda, like Mozambique which joined in 1995, was not colonized by the British.
Patricia Scotland, the secretary-general of the Commonwealth, said the association is a place where “people come together, work together and where no voice is louder or more important than any other.”
Also on Friday, the Commonwealth leaders reappointed Scotland as the secretary general of the Commonwealth for another two years during their executive session.
The Commonwealth Secretariat said in a statement that Scotland’s reappointment had to be put to a vote “because there was a challenger.”
Kamina Smith, Jamaica’s minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, competed against Scotland.
“Leaders of the Commonwealth have made a decision by consensus to reappoint Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland, QC, for a further two years to complete the balance of her period in office,” said the statement.
“It is deeply humbling to have been reappointed as Secretary-General of this great Commonwealth. To continue to serve our family of nations is a true honor and a privilege and I will do so to the best of my ability. We will face the world’s challenges with unity and purpose,” Scotland said.
The Commonwealth secretary-general can serve a maximum of two terms of four years.
But Scotland held its term presidency for six years due the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was first elected in 2015 during the Commonwealth meeting in Malta.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting is customarily held every two years and is the Commonwealth’s highest consultative and policy-making gathering.
At a meeting in London in 2018, the Commonwealth leaders selected Rwanda as the host for their next summit, but the meeting was postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier, on his arrival in Rwanda this week, Johnson visited the Kigali genocide memorial site to pay tribute to victims of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi ethnic group in which more than 1 million lives were lost.
“It has been utterly shocking to see these images, and so many physical memorials, of the appalling and inexplicable genocide against the Tutsis,” Johnson wrote in the visitors’ book.
Speaking at a business forum on Thursday, Johnson announced the UK will offer £160 million ($171 million) for hydropower investments in Africa to help economies on the continent.
He also met with President Kagame and discussed the existing partnerships between Rwanda and the UK, including the controversial migrant deal.
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