President Goodluck Jonathan and his Malawian counterpart, Mrs. Joyce Banda, yesterday in Abuja lamented the persistent and bloody conflicts across Africa.

Jonathan said the new threats and challenges of terrorism, drug and human trafficking, climate change, kidnapping, poverty and sectarian conflicts in Africa was undermining the continent’s determined efforts towards achieving sustainable peace and development.

He expressed concern that women and children, especially the girl-child, were the main victims of this unfortunate situation and called for urgent action to address challenging political and security situation facing several countries in the continent.

Declaring open the seventh Summit of the African First Ladies Peace Mission yesterday in Abuja, President Jonathan observed that the prevailing circumstance required strong advocacy, cooperation, and the protection of basic rights and also work together as individuals and countries to promote the cause of peace, love and harmony in the continent.

He argued that if Africa was to move forward and be competitive in the 21st century, the gender equality must be a major component of our national policies.

Jonathan, who called on African leaders to intensify efforts to remove all barriers that limit women and the girl-child from actualising their dreams, said: “Our women must be protected against all forms of discrimination and be given equal opportunities and access to education, politics and the economy.

He stressed the need for the First Ladies Mission to continue to serve as a voice for the disempowered, the dispossessed, and the violated, especially women and children and be an advocate for peace and the growth of our mother continent.”

Jonathan appealed to governments to implement existing international legal frameworks that promote peace, security and human development.

Mrs. Banda also noted that modern Africa has become synonymous to suffering and that in most cases this was due to internal conflict that could easily be avoided and urged the First Ladies to use their unique and influential position to ensure that peace reigns in Africa.

The Malawian President, who lamented the conflict situation in Africa, said that several African countries had experienced upheavals in recent decades, including violent and often brutal intra-state conflicts, adding that most of the 24 major armed conflicts recorded worldwide in 2011 were on the African continent with 11 of those conflicts lasting eight years or more as reported by the United Nations Commission on Human Security.

In her address, wife of the President and the President, African First Ladies Peace Mission, Dame Patience Jonathan, observed that in nearly all states in Africa, conflict, violent crimes and terrorism has become widespread and advocated for peaceful means of resolving differences in the society to prevent violence and war in the continent.

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