Why We Must Treat Africa With The Same Urgency As Ukraine

The Biden Administration recently announced that it will send a whopping $1 billion in security assistance to Ukraine, but in August, stated that it will only send $150 million in food aid to the African continent. Understandably, Ukraine needs the money to defend itself. However, Africa’s need is urgent, too, as it struggles with the Russian military’s blockade of food exports to the continent from Ukraine — a horrible situation that has led to the starvation of millions of Africans.

I was heartbroken during my last visit to East Africa while I ministered to my congregations in Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Goma. The mothers appeared physically weak and our young adults were weary. They shared that they felt humiliated while constantly scavenging for food. I was shocked as our congregations have done our best to provide food baskets, but they said children are the priority, thus often leaving the adults hungry.

Our nation’s support for Ukraine is grounded in our long-term campaign to promote democracy globally and to counter Putin’s thirst for Russia to once again become the Soviet Union. In contrast, our aid to Africa is episodic and reactive. It is past time for the Biden administration to revise America’s engagement with Africa, from being minimalist and paternal to being bold, equitable and strategic. 

As President Biden prepares to host the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in December, his release of a new strategy toward Africa is a step in the right direction. However, the administration has missed a critical opportunity to mobilize African Americans’ support.

Moving forward, President Biden must be unequivocal in denouncing Trump’s branding of African nations and Haiti as “s**thole” countries by fully reframing U.S.-Africa relations within America’s overall foreign policy. This is a critical opportunity to align his domestic efforts for racial equity with a global campaign to do the same. He and Vice President Kamala Harris have a historic opportunity to present a foreign policy that would work toward a more expansive redistribution of power and wealth among Black people globally.

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