The UN Secretary General has underscored his concern for the Sahel region of Africa, where deteriorating security and violence are exacerbating an already difficult humanitarian situation that is unfolding amid the COVID-19 pandemic and climate emergency. .
António Guterres addressed the heads of state of the Group of Five for the Sahel, known by the diplomatic abbreviation ‘G5 Sahel’, meeting Tuesday during their summit this week in Chad.
The UN chief noted that despite recent promising events, including the peaceful holding of elections, the civilian population continues to pay the price for the ongoing insecurity in the region, which has displaced more than two million people.
“COVID-19 has exacerbated existing vulnerabilities, including health and economic challenges, and has pushed more than six million people into extreme poverty,” he said in a video message to the summit. “The G5 Sahel has a key role to play in addressing this crisis.”
Joint Force Fund
The G5 Sahel comprises Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.
The countries established a Joint Force four years ago to combat terrorism and other cross-border threats, which receives assistance from international partners, including the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA.
The Secretary General noted that, while the Joint Force continues to grow stronger, it must have stable and predictable funding.
“MINUSMA’s support for the transition process and the stabilization of Mali should be a priority for partners in the region,” he added, while condemning last week’s deadly attack on the UN peacekeepers who serve in the country.
UN support for good governance
Mr. Guterres also pointed to development, the rule of law and good governance as “cornerstones of stability” in the Sahel region.
“Governments must regain the trust of their citizens, and we are determined to support all efforts to that end,” he said.
The Secretary General underscored the need to address the root causes of conflict, given the multidimensional and interrelated nature of the many challenges in the region.
It has appointed a Special Coordinator for Development in the Sahel, Mar Dieye, who will work together with the UN Special Representative for West Africa and the region, Mohammed Ibn Chambas, to promote peace and stability there.