The Security Council today expressed concern at growing insecurity, terrorism and maritime piracy in West Africa, the Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea and encouraged further national and regional efforts to counter those threats, as it welcomed efforts by countries in the region, as well as the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), to tackle security challenges amid a grim humanitarian situation made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a presidential statement (document S/PRST/2021/16) presented by India, Council President for August, the 15-member organ stressed the need for accountability for human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law. It condemned attacks on civilians, Government representatives and security forces, including those of the United Nations. In particular, it condemned attacks targeting schools, educators and children, including recent abductions in Nigeria.
Primary responsibility for restoring stability and protecting civilians rests with Governments in the region, with support from the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), regional organizations and the international community, it said. It reaffirmed the need to address underlying conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, emphasized women’s participation in maintaining peace and stability, and encouraged UNOWAS to integrate information on the impact of climate change and natural hazards in its activities.
Expressing grave concern over the impact of the Libyan conflict on neighbouring countries, particularly in the Sahel, the Council encouraged further international support and regional cooperation to tackle the illicit transfer, accumulation and misuse of weapons and the flow of armed groups and mercenaries.
It welcomed the crucial role played by the Multinational Joint Task Force and the joint force of the Group of Five (G5) for the Sahel against terrorists in the region, while stressing the importance of continued bilateral and international support to ensure the full operationalization and autonomy of the G5 Sahel joint force. Regarding piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, the Council welcomed enhanced cooperation between ECOWAS and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and a commitment to reactive regional coordination mechanisms for maritime safety.
Turning to political concerns, the Council — recalling the importance of political dialogue and consensus-building among all stakeholders to achieve sustainable reconciliation — stressed that good governance is critical for long-term peace and stability in West Africa and the Sahel. It commended the recent democratic transition in Niger and reconciliation efforts in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Togo. It further commended national efforts to grow the number of women in senior government positions.
The Council went on to express concern about the humanitarian situation, which is being exacerbated by the pandemic, forced displacement, social inequalities and violence, and food insecurity, which is particularly severe in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin. It called for unhindered humanitarian access to all persons in need, greater funding for humanitarian response plans, and equitable and affordable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
It concluded by reiterating the importance of expediting the implementation of the United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel and the United Nations Support Plan for the Sahel. In that respect, it welcomed collaboration between the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel, Annadif Khatir Mahamat Saleh, and the Organization’s Special Coordinator for development in the Sahel, Abdoulaye Mar Dieye.
The meeting began at 12:26 p.m. and ended at 12:27 p.m.
* The 8835th Meeting was closed.