The United States government has just announced a financial package of more than 127 million dollars for humanitarian assistance to Africa, including Mozambique.
“This assistance will provide vital support to refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons, stateless and persecuted people across Africa, including those affected by crises in Burkina Faso, Chad, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Niger, and other new and protracted displacement situations”, said a statement from the US State Department.
The announcement of the support was made last Friday in Ghana by the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
In addition to emergency needs, according to the statement, the aid will also support durable solutions for former refugees who wish to return to their home countries.
“This assistance will enable our humanitarian partners to help many of the more than seven million refugees and asylum seekers currently housed in Africa, as well as the more than 25 million internally displaced people”, it says.
These funds, adds the document, will provide life-saving and life-sustaining support to forcibly displaced populations, including those affected by the growing global food crisis and shortages and their host communities across Africa.
“We call on other donors to provide additional support to meet the growing humanitarian needs on the continent”, it stresses.
Thomas-Greenfield also warned African countries against breaking the sanctions imposed on Russia because of its invasion of Ukraine, and denied that the sanctions themselves are having an effect on food security.
“Some folks have come here and told you that Western sanctions are to blame for rising food prices”, she said. “The fact is that our sanctions are targeted at Putin and his supporters, not agriculture and food, which are specifically carved out of the sanctions. Let me say that again since this is such a regular piece of disinformation: America’s sanctions do not, let me repeat, do not apply to food and fertilizer exports. Period”.
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She pointed out that “Russia itself is taking steps that limit exports to the world. For example, Moscow has imposed export quotas on nitrogen and complex fertilizers that will be in place until at least the end of the year. A lack of fertilizer today bakes in a food security crisis for tomorrow. Russia also imposed extra duties on its own farmers’ grain exports, even though Russia had a bumper crop this year”.
Speaking in Kampala last Thursday, Thomas-Greenfield warned that, where sanctions are in place (on Russian oil, for example), countries should not consider violating them.
“If a country decides to engage with Russia where there are sanctions, then they are breaking those sanctions; they’re breaking our sanctions and in some cases they’re breaking UN sanctions with other countries, and we caution countries not to break those sanctions because then, if they do, they stand the chance of having actions taken against them for breaking those sanctions”, she said.
Could this affect Mozambique? Last week, the Russian ambassador to Maputo, Alexander Surikov, proposed the sale of cheap Russian fuel to Mozambique – but he stipulated that any purchase would have to be in the Russian currency, roubles. The Bank of Mozambique does not have large amounts of roubles available for foreign trade transaction,
To pay for the fuel in roubles would mean selling other currencies to the Russian central bank in order to obtain roubles. The Bank of Mozambique would have to consider whether it is really worth surrendering some of its reserves in dollars or euros in order to acquire roubles.
Asked about the Russian “offer”, the Mozambican Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Carlos Zacarias, was cautious. “I’m sure we shall study the viability of this offer”, he told reporters.
The original idea to import Russian fuel came from the Confederation of Mozambican Business Associations (CTA). The CTA clearly did not consult any of the main players in the fuel business. The independent newssheet “Carta de Mocambique” points out that the main fuel distributers (such as the French TotalEnergies or the Portuguese Galp) have no intention of violating the sanctions against Russia.
Fuel traders (such as Vittol or Trafigura) are branches of western multinationals, and will also steer clear of taking any measure that could be read as violating the sanctions.