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Climate, malaria highlighted as Commonwealth leaders meet

KIGALI – Commonwealth leaders meet in Rwanda on Friday for a summit that promises to address climate change, tropical diseases and other challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The summit of Commonwealth Heads of State in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, is the culmination of a series of meetings earlier in the week that reported some success in efforts to improve the lives of people in the 54-nation bloc, where May 2 billion people.

Those numbers are set to increase with the expected admission to the Commonwealth of the African nations of Togo and Gabon, who have asked to join the bloc despite having no colonial history with Britain. The Commonwealth is made up mostly of former British colonies, but countries like Mozambique and Rwanda – a former Belgian colony with an Anglophile leader – have in the past submitted successful bids to join the group, of which Queen Elizabeth II is the titular head.

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Rwanda’s hosting of the summit is controversial for some, who cite the east African country’s poor human rights record under Paul Kagame, an authoritarian leader who has been de facto leader or president since the 1994 genocide. Other critics are unhappy with what they see as an illegal and cruel deal with Britain to ship migrants thousands of miles to Rwanda. This deal faces legal hurdles and the first group of migrants has yet to arrive in Rwanda.

World leaders attending the Kigali Summit range from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose Conservative Party leadership suffered a major blow overnight when voters rejected the party’s candidates in two special elections, is also in Rwanda.

Prince Charles is representing his mother, who is stepping down from official duties at 96.

Other meetings on the sidelines of the summit reported some successes in efforts to tackle pressing issues like tackling climate change and tackling deadly diseases.

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More than $4 billion was pledged Thursday to global efforts to accelerate the fight against malaria and other neglected tropical diseases. The money comes from governments, philanthropists and others in the private sector. In addition, pharmaceutical companies donated 18 billion tablets to prevent and treat these diseases.

Observers say the fundraising represents a significant breakthrough as malaria is a leading killer in Africa.

dr Francisca Olamiju, the head of a pro-poor NGO in Nigeria, told the AP she had high hopes for such a large gathering to boost campaigns against tropical diseases.

World leaders must “walk the talk” and mobilize more resources for the cause, she said.

The summit is also urging increased climate action ahead of the United Nations climate summit in Egypt later this year.

Commonwealth leaders will adopt the long-awaited Living Lands Charter, an action plan to tackle climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss. The charter aims to achieve climate goals through a mix of political leverage, funding, technical assistance, governance and knowledge sharing between nations.

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Commonwealth governments have been asked to submit their emissions reduction targets by September 23.

About 32 of the Commonwealth’s members are small states, including 25 small islands and developing countries classified as vulnerable to climate change.

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Associated Press writer Rodney Muhumuza contributed to this report from Kampala, Uganda.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/world/2022/06/24/climate-malaria-highlighted-as-commonwealth-leaders-meet/ Climate, malaria highlighted as Commonwealth leaders meet

Sarah Y. Kim

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