September 28, 2023

Senior diplomat Uzra Zeya visiting Mozambique and Namibia to advance U.S.-African partnerships on food security and refugees

Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya
Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya

Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya will be traveling to Mozambique and Namibia from July 18-24 to advance U.S.-African partnerships on food security and support for refugees and internally displaced persons. She will also promote the respect for human rights, strengthen democratic governance and the fight against trafficking in persons and wildlife, the Biden administration announced on Friday.

Under Secretary Zeya will begin her trip in Maputo, Mozambique, on July 18 where she will meet with government officials and members of civil society to discuss opportunities to advance stabilization of violence-affected areas, leveraging new opportunities under the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability. 

“She will highlight important work the United States is doing with African and international partners to counter terrorism and trafficking in persons, build capacity of judicial and law enforcement partners, assist internally displaced persons and people afflicted by violence in northern Mozambique, as well as promote food security, democratic principles, anti-corruption efforts, respect for human rights, and religious freedom,” the State Department said in a statement.

The United Nations reports that 80 percent of Mozambique or roughly 28 million people cannot afford an adequate diet. The southeastern African nation ranked 181 of 189 countries in the 2020 Human Development Index and 103 of 107 in the 2020 Global Hunger Index.

The southwestern African nation of Namibia also faces food insecurity and substantial poverty, with 17.4 percent of the population living below the international poverty line in 2017. This figure has likely increased significantly throughout the covid-19 pandemic and the current global food crisis.

In Mozambique, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced due to ongoing conflict between the nation’s forces and Islamic insurgent groups. Corruption and human rights abuses are also both major concerns.

Zeya will then travel to Windhoek, Namibia on July 21, where she will meet with government officials to advance shared global priorities on climate change, transnational crime, and energy, and to discuss joint efforts to strengthen democracy, promote the human rights of all individuals, fight human trafficking, assist refugees, and promote regional security. 

There, she will also meet with members of civil society as well as Namibia’s young political and social leaders to hear their vision for Namibia’s future and the United States partnership.  She will then visit a refugee camp and Waterberg Plateau Park to see first-hand U.S.-Namibia cooperation to support vulnerable populations and to protect endangered wildlife from illegal trafficking. 

Namibia is regarded as one of the most free and democratic nations in sub-Saharan Africa. It received a total freedom score of 7 out of 100 from Freedom House. However, certain ethnic groups continue to suffer from poverty and marginalization.

According to the United Nations World Food Programme, Namibia produces only 40 percent of the food it consumes, meaning that it is highly dependent on imports. The heavily volatile global market threatens the nation’s food security.

Russia’s war on Ukraine has caused a global skyrocketing of prices for many goods and its detrimental effect can be seen most clearly in nations that rely heavily on imports as well as nations that lack the resources necessary to provide effective safety nets to compensate for rising prices.

As the world works toward recovery from the covid-19 pandemic, African economies are challenged by the state of the global market. The global food crisis is worsening as millions of children throughout southern Africa are malnourished and countless families face daunting levels of food insecurity. Many hope that the United States can help provide relief to those afflicted by the devastating crisis.