Continuing attacks by Boko Haram, risks of election instability in several nations, transnational organized crime and Ebola were current top concerns in West Africa, a United Nations official in the region told the Security Council this afternoon.
“These are the areas that will continue to guide our preventive diplomacy and good offices efforts in the months to come,” Mohammed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA), said as he introduced the latest semi-annual report on the Office (document S/2015/472).
Since May, Mr. Chambas said, Boko Haram had stepped up its attacks in the Lake Chad Basin area — not only in Nigeria, but also in Niger and Chad — mainly against civilian targets, although the structure and capacity of the group for conventional warfare had been largely destroyed through regional action supported by international partners, which he called commendable.
He said that further vigilance and coordinated regional action against Boko Haram was needed, however, and more support from all partners remained crucial. Addressing the root causes of the insurgency was a requirement for lasting stability. In addition, a coordinated post-conflict strategy was required to help restore living conditions and allow the return of displaced persons.
The Boko Haram situation, he said, had not kept Cameroon and Nigeria from completing the demarcation of their common land boundary. The “Mixed Commission” for that purpose was preparing to initiate confidence-building projects in favour of populations affected by the demarcation; the United Nations support team had outlined a completion strategy for related efforts.
Turning to other matters, he said that in Guinea, political dialogue had begun on 19 June, addressing longstanding issues dividing the Government and the opposition. The election sequence had been determined but financial and other expertise was needed as soon as possible in order to keep the electoral process on course, given that only four months remained until the presidential polls.
He described progress in preparation of elections in Burkina Faso, as well as concerns over tensions between the Prime Minister and the presidential security forces. He commended President Michel Kafando on efforts to calm the situation and keep the transition on track. Presidential elections in Burkina Faso were planned for 10 October, he said.
Finally, he underscored the continuing challenges posed by Ebola including problems in border areas where none of the planned security or confidence-building mechanisms had become operational. Restrictions due to the epidemic continued to affect livelihoods. In addition, Guinea and Sierra Leone had yet to approach zero cases.
Most worrisome, he said, was that after declaring a zero-Ebola-case situation on 9 May, Liberia had detected three new cases. While solidarity between the neighbours in facing the crisis remained impressive, the appearance of new cases and the sensitive political context, particularly in Guinea, meant that international resources must remain in place if the goal of zero cases in the region was to be met.
The meeting began at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 3:18 p.m.