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‘Unprecedented’ insecurity in West Africa and the Sahel, Security Council hears

WorldAfrica'Unprecedented' insecurity in West Africa and the Sahel, Security Council hears
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In his briefing, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Officer in Charge of the United Nations Office for the Region, UNOWAS, urged ambassadors to continue supporting a strategy focused on building resilience, promoting good governance and strengthening peace and security.

Ms. Beha presented the latest UNOWAS report covering trends and developments over the past six months.

Insecurity Affects Millions

“Despite efforts by national security forces and international partners, insecurity has again worsened in large parts of the region,” he told the council.

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Operations by armed groups, violent extremists and criminal networks forced the closure more than 10,000 schoolsthat has affected millions of children, and some 7,000 health centers,

These non-state groups, he said, are fighting among themselves for supremacy and control of resources, which is Marginalizing states and causing untold distress for millions who have fled to a safer place.

“Indeed, the Central Sahel continues to face multidimensional challenges, security and humanitarian challenges of unprecedented levels, socio-political instability, further compounded by the effects of climate change, and food insecurity, which was exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine,” he said.

At the same time, the countries along the coast of the Gulf of Guinea have also seen increase in attacks against their territories, threatening transportation routes for landlocked nations to the north.

promote consensus and dialogue

Ms Biha reports on UNOWAS activities, which include efforts to foster political consensus and ensure a level playing field ahead of elections due this year in countries such as Nigeria.

The office is also working with the West African economic bloc ECOWAS and other United Nations entities to contribute to conflict resolution at both the regional and local levels, including in farming and pastoral communities in northern Benin.

Relatedly, UNOWAS also worked with youth and women’s groups to promote conflict-sensitive best practices on climate change adaptation. These findings were brought up at the COP27 United Nations climate conference in Egypt last November.

“In Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire, UN-supported peace caravans have finished their journey through the respective countries, providing space for effective inter-communal dialogue along their way,” she said.

© UNICEF/Millechem Diarrasouba

Children attending class at a school in Bondiali, northern Côte d’Ivoire.

commitment and support

In the wake of the coup in Burkina Faso in September 2022 and the coup in Guinea a year earlier, UNOWAS has welcomed agreements on a period of political transition.

“UNOWAS will remain actively committed to the evaluation and follow-up mechanism agreed between Burkina Faso and ECOWAS, and to the operationalization of the transition timeline in Guinea,” Ms. Biha said.

“The United Nations system must continue to provide assistance to the countries concerned by focusing on Responding to the grievances that led to those coups,

Countering insecurity and scaling up humanitarian assistance are particularly important in the context of these urgent challenges, he stressed, stressing that millions of people continue to be the target of seemingly endless attacks, particularly in Mali and Burkina Faso.

They welcomed efforts in The Gambia to implement the recommendations made by the country’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reform Commission.

advocate for women

“We are also pleased to see that several countries in the region have adopted new national legislation on equality participation of women in political decision makingAnd this after years of sustained advocacy,” she told the ambassadors.

The UN official expressed hope that lawmakers and other actors in Nigeria and the Gambia will resume the legislative process on this important issue.

“For our part, UNOWAS will continue its collaboration with the Working Group on Women, Youth, Peace and Security in West Africa and the Sahel to assess the effectiveness of existing approaches and find new ways. To ensure that half the population of the region can make their voices heard In assemblies where decisions are taken and budgets are approved.

Meanwhile, the process of establishing a Justice Ministers’ Forum among ECOWAS countries “could be an important tool, given that the judicial system in the region is being mechanised.”

opportunity Knocks

Ms. Beha urged the Council to continue supporting the UN strategy.

“Despite the many challenges facing the countries of the region, especially the Sahel region, the region remains a land of immense opportunities,” he said.

“I take this opportunity to salute the immense resilience of the region’s populations, especially the Sahelian people who have faced many challenges of unprecedented magnitude and continue to fight every day for a better future.”

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