Abuja, Nigeria

14 May 2016

Secretary-General's message to the Second Regional Security Summit [delivered by Mr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and Sahel]

Your Excellency Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Your Excellency Mr. François Hollande, President of the Republic of France, Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government of member states of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, Your Excellency Mr. Sanusi Imran Abdullahi, Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, Excellencies, Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Boko Haram has rampaged through this region in recent years, killing and injuring thousands of people, destroying homes, communities and livelihoods. Around nine million people in the Lake Chad Basin need humanitarian assistance. More than five million people are short of food.

Since the beginning of the crisis, almost 2.8 million people have been displaced and some 500,000 people have sought refuge across borders. I commend neighbouring countries for their generosity and I welcome news that Governments and UNHCR will start talks on the voluntary return of refugees.

Mr. President, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Since the first Regional Security Summit, you have made significant strides in the joint fight against Boko Haram. I commend your commitment to joint security operations. President Muhammadu Buhari’s regional tour and the recent visit of President Paul Biya of Cameroon to Nigeria are further demonstrations of your determination to tackle this scourge together.

I welcome the establishment and operationalization of the Multi-National Joint Task Force and I urge further support so that it can become fully operational.

However, I am concerned by reports of serious human rights abuses that have taken place in connection with counter-insurgency operations. It is critical that these operations are carried out in full compliance with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law.

I welcome the measures that have already been taken, and urge Governments to implement national counter-terrorism laws and policies that ensure compliance with international standards, increase access to justice, and provide redress for victims. 

The United Nations stands ready to mobilize support for regional and international action against Boko Haram that includes an effective strategy to protect human rights, and monitor and address violations.

Mr. President, Excellencies,

Respect for human rights is just one of the many essential elements of the comprehensive joint approach to tackle Boko Haram. Governments, with the support of the international community and other partners, must support the communities and people affected by the conflict. They must also address the root causes that led to the emergence of violent extremism and terrorism in this region.

The sustainable recovery of areas liberated from Boko Haram will require humanitarian and development aid, and long-term support to promote the rule of law, strengthen governance, ensure sustainable and inclusive development, and foster social cohesion.

Many women and girls in this region have experienced serious abuse and trauma and will need Government help to recover. I urge Nigeria and its neighbours to establish inves

tigation and search mechanisms to ensure the safe release of the Chibok girls and all those who have been abducted. It will also be vital to continue efforts to rehabilitate and reintegrate children who have been abducted and recruited by armed groups.

The humanitarian and development community stands ready to continue its support, based on the framework provided by the goals and targets in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. I urge donors to increase their funding, which stands at just ten per cent of the $536 million needed for humanitarian aid this year.

 The United Nations is committed to the countries of this region in their efforts to achieve peace, security and sustainable development in the Lake Chad Basin. 

I commend you for your continuing political engagement on these challenging issues and urge you to build on these with humanity and respect for human rights. 

I send you my best wishes for a successful summit. Thank you.