8047th Security Council Meeting: Peace and Security in Africa

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SIX OFFICIAL 13-Sep-2017 01:55:37
Terrorism and other security threats diverting scarce funds from ‘staggering’ Lake Chad Basin humanitarian crisis, political affairs chief tells Security Council at 8047th meeting.
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Boko Haram Impacts All Facets of Life, Nigeria’s Permanent Representative Stresses

Recent progress against Boko Haram notwithstanding, Africa’s Lake Chad Basin continued to suffer a “staggering” and under-funded humanitarian crisis, the United Nations political affairs chief told the Security Council today, warning that Governments across the region had been forced to divert already scarce resources to fight terrorism and other security challenges.

“Without question, Boko Haram’s combat capacity has diminished,” said Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, as he briefed the Council this afternoon. Introducing the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in the Lake Chad Basin (document S/2017/764) — outlining developments on the ground and the Council’s March visit there — he pointed to successful operations by the Multinational Joint Task Force comprising personnel from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.

Nevertheless, he continued, suicide attacks by Boko Haram continued and some 10.7 million people across the region were now in need of humanitarian assistance, with food insecurity high and thousands of farmers having already missed four planting seasons due to conflict. Countries of the region had had no choice but to divert much of their national budgets from development to address security challenges, he said, adding that international funding had also fallen significantly short with the $1.5 billion regional appeal for 2017 funded at only 40 per cent.

Fatima Sheu Imam, Director of the Network of Civil Society Organizations in Borno State, Nigeria, also briefed the Council via teleconference, noting that her group provided assistance to victims of violence stemming from insurgent activities, including those perpetrated by Boko Haram. The situation remained tense and fragile, with recent reports of stability fostering a false sense of security. A lack of food, the collapse of economic activity and increased marginalization of women and girls reflected growing humanitarian needs. Noting that her group and other local actors lacked the security operations that non-governmental organizations and the United Nations enjoyed, she urged the Council to bring assistance to the many people in need in the region.

As Council members took the floor, delegates expressed serious concern over those challenges, while many also welcomed the strong and coordinated response of the Multinational Joint Task Force. Several speakers outlined their Governments’ responses to the multiple crises in the Lake Chad Basin, urging donors to bolster their financial, logistical and technical support to the affected States.

“This multidimensional crisis is indeed being taken seriously by the States of the region,” said Egypt’s representative, pointing out that Boko Haram’s territory had been significantly reduced. Efforts had been made to address human rights, free the girls abducted by Boko Haram, allow the displaced to return home and provide humanitarian aid. Nevertheless, he voiced concern about the region’s humanitarian crisis — which, in north-east Nigeria, now resembled a “real famine” — and called on all donors to fulfil their pledges in that regard. Indeed, despite the efforts of Joint Task Force, more support from the international community was required to ensure that stability returned to the region.

Senegal’s representative recalled that, in adopting resolution 2349 (2017), the Council had focused on the double humanitarian-security crisis raging around the Lake Chad region. Citing gains against Boko Haram, he warned that the growing number of terrorist attacks — mostly by female suicide bombers — bore witness to the changing tactics of terrorist groups. Responses must be coordinated, he said, adding that all solutions must involve development in the most affected areas with a focus on the roots of the crisis.

China’s representative, echoing concerns over those challenges as well as the related massive displacement of civilians, said his country had responded promptly to its bilateral partners with emergency food assistance and urged others to do the same. Support should be provided to regional countries in efforts to fight terrorism, with a focus on “African solutions to African issues” and full respect for their independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, he said. Member States should take a longer-term perspective by assisting with post-conflict development and working to improve living standards across the region.

Nigeria’s representative, noting that the Boko Haram insurgency had negatively impacted every facet of life in his country, credited the Multinational Joint Task Force for greatly degrading its operations in the region. Pointing out that Nigeria was also making progress against the group, he nevertheless underscored the many humanitarian challenges resulting from the massive displacement, abandoned farmlands and disruption of the educational system. The Government had enacted programmes to support communities in need, including through a presidential committee mandated to help bring normalcy to the region.

Also speaking were the representatives of the United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy, Uruguay, France, Ukraine, United States, Kazakhstan, Bolivia, Japan, Russian Federation and Ethiopia.

The meeting began at 3:09 p.m. and ended at 5:05 p.m.
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