Foreign Minister receives a farewell call from Ms Rukia Yacoub WFP Ghana Representative

Madam Shirley Aryokor Botchwey, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration on Thursday, August 5, 2021 recieved a farewell call from Ms Rukia Yacoub,
representative of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) for Ghana.

The Country representative assumed this position in May, 2017, having previously worked as WFP Deputy Country Director in Yemen for five (5) months in 2014 and served in a similar capacity in Egypt from 2009-2014.

She brought to the position, a wealth of experience in implementing, managing and coordinating humanitarian and development programmes, both in least developed and lower-middle income countries. Her development work in Egypt, a lower middle-income country, was particularly relevant to Ghana at the stage of the country’s development.

The Hon. Minister during the meeting expressed appreciation for the excellent role Ms Rukia Yacoub has played in fostering close cooperation between the Government of Ghana and the WFP during her tenure.

Hon Ayorkor Botchwey observed that notwithstanding the complex challenges posed to national development systems by the COVID-19 pandemic, WFP and WHO explored avenues to scale impediments to shared aspirations for the deepening of cooperation.

She refered to the collaborative efforts of the WFP/WHO in their swift response to the humanitarian and health crises and the consequent building of the field Hospital in Ghana and averred that in appreciation of the gravity of the threats posed by the pandemic, Ghana readily welcomed the proposition by the WFP and WHO to ensure success in the global fight against the pandemic.

Hon Minister recalled Ghana’s experience in facilitating humanitarian response, in which she undertook a leadership role in the fight against Ebola in the sub-region. While many countries, including those known to have resilient health systems, closed their borders to the affected West African countries due to fear of the debilitating epidemic, Ghana, was among the few countries that maintained open borders during that outbreak.

She expressed appreciation for the successful, though extensive, discussions that culminated if a mutually acceptable agreement and the consequent establishment of the Covid-19 Field Hospital that was funded by the WFP and currently being manned by WHO.

Madam Shirley Aryokor Botchwey lamented about the unavailability of vaccines and the resultant vaccine nationalism that has left most developing and least developed countries in a precarious and vulnerable state; and express optimism that the global discourse and initiatives would soon result in the availability and access to vaccines for all.

She applauded the award of the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize to the WFP which was in acknowledgment of the organisation’s efforts to combat hunger, its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.

She acknowledged the sustained role of the WFP in upholding the right to food in Ghana and working in close concert with Government agencies to ensure that there was access to food in all households, particularly for those in the rural areas.

Minister for Foreign Affairs commented that Covid-19 presents an opportunity for national and global leaders to rethink policies for ensuring food and nutrition security, and economic recovery that are aligned with the commitment of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to ‘leave no one behind’.

Madam Shirley Aryokor Botchwey refered to the collaboration with the Ghana Health Service for the provision of food to Covid-19 containment centres to help ease the burden on Government while sustaining the nutritional needs of Covid-19 patients.

She further refered to the collaboration with Government to provide Smallholder farmers and households in selected rural communities in the country with Covid-19 relief support worth 1.5 million dollars; The project is expected to be implemented in 18 months and will benefit 50,000 persons directly in 25,000 households, with five per cent being Persons Living with Disabilities (PWDs); The cash transfer beneficiaries would be selected from nine districts in Northern Ghana.

She observed that Covid-19 is having a major impact on livelihoods and food security across the globe, and note that women and people who work in informal sectors of the economy were the most affected and welcomed the joint effort of the WFP and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to transfer money to 75,000 Ghanaians, whose income sources have been affected due to the incidence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hon Minister stated that the Covid-19 pandemic constituted serious threat to global development efforts and had the potential to significantly reverse progress made towards the attainment of the SDGs and Note that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is therefore more committed to facilitating partnerships and enhancing coordination between the United Nations and the Government of Ghana.

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