Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message for the G5 Sahel Summit today:
Mr. President, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for your invitation and for your close cooperation for peace and development in the Sahel.
Despite recent promising developments, including the peaceful holding of elections, I remain concerned about the deteriorating security situation in the region, in particular in Liptako-Gourma, where the spiral of violence is aggravating an already difficult humanitarian situation.
And once again, it is the civilian population that is paying the price. There are more than 2 million displaced persons. Millions of others are facing acute food insecurity. And this is all in the context of a major climate crisis.
COVID-19 has exacerbated existing vulnerabilities, including economic and health challenges, and has pushed more than 6 million people into extreme poverty.
The G5 Sahel has a key role to play in addressing this crisis. One year after the Pau Summit, the Joint Force continues to grow in strength thanks to the full mobilization of the States of the Sahel, the assistance of international partners and the support of MINUSMA [United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali].
The forthcoming deployment of the Takuba Task Force, composed of European special forces in coordination with the G5 Sahel, illustrates this mobilization, and I thank the countries involved. The aim is to maintain this momentum while demonstrating exemplary respect for human rights.
In this context, the Joint Force must have stable and predictable funding. African peace support and counter-terrorism operations must receive a mandate by the Security Council under Chapter VII and sustained financing, including through assessed contributions.
MINUSMA support for the transition process and the stabilization of Mali must be a priority for partners in the region. I condemn the cowardly attack perpetrated once again against our peacekeepers last week and call on the authorities to make every effort to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
Beyond the security response alone, development, the rule of law and good governance are the cornerstones of stability in the region. Governments must regain the confidence of their citizens, and we are determined to support all efforts towards that end. The multidimensional and interrelated nature of the many challenges makes it necessary to address the root causes of conflict.
That is why I have appointed a Special Coordinator for Development in the Sahel. Mr. Mar Dieye will ensure that the links between challenges in the humanitarian, climate, security, political and, of course, development fields are taken into account in a more integrated and, therefore, more effective approach.
He will work closely with my Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel, Mohammed Chambas, to advance the implementation of the United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel, drawing on all our resources in the region to support the efforts of the G5 Sahel.
And together, to advance peace and sustainable development in the region.