Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s Interview with Thomas Naadi of BBC News

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
Accra, Ghana
December 7, 2023

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s Interview with Thomas Naadi of BBC News 

AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look at the situation in Burkina Faso, where the country – 80 percent of the country is not in control of the military regime there. So, it is important that these countries understand that Wagner does not bring stability; it does not bring security; it supports governments to stay in power who are not addressing the needs of their people.

QUESTION: The U.S. was very reluctant to declare the political situation in Niger a coup. And then the U.S. ambassador to Niger officially presented her credentials to the foreign ministry in Niamey. Is the United States now recognizing the military junta in Niger as the legitimate authority?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look, what we’re trying to do is get to a solution that will shorten the transition back to a civilian government. So, we’re engaging with this military to put pressure on them and to urge that they return to a civilian government. We’re also working closely with our regional partners. We’re working with ECOWAS.

QUESTION: The UN mission in Mali has ended. Are you concerned that the withdrawal could worsen the security situation in the Sahel?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We’ve already seen that happen in Mali. The situation in the country is much more insecure than it was previously. And again, this was a decision made by the host government that will have a negative impact on ordinary citizens.

QUESTION: How does the U.S. plan to work with regional governments to counter jihadi recruitment and provide opportunities for vulnerable communities?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look, we’re working not just in the region, but we’re working in the UN. I should note that Ghana was on the Security Council – they’re still on the Security Council until the end of the month – and we worked closely with Ghana as they brought before the Security Council their concerns about what was happening in the Sahel so that we could provide additional support to these countries.

We have also – Ghana, in fact, has proposed a resolution in the Security Council that will have the UN look at new ways of providing funding to the African Union for peacekeeping operations by the African Union. So, we’re working to find new ways of providing support, new ways of providing training and equipment to governments on this continent, and particularly in this region.

QUESTION: You have just announced a $3 million support package for the production of women-specific body armors. Why is this significant?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, that’s a great question. It is something we’re really proud of. We have pushed and encouraged that peacekeeping contingents have more women in their missions. And if women are going to be in the mission, they have different needs. Their body shapes are different from men. So, they need body armor that works for them, that protects them. And so, we were very proud to partner with the Netherlands to provide women-specific body armor to female contingents in both Ghana and in Zambia. And I think that’s going to make the work of women in the field easier. It’s going to protect them. Because I’m told sometimes the body armor doesn’t fit. So, if it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t provide protection.