The United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA)/ Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) - Security Council, 8787th meeting

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07-Jun-2021 01:24:24
Violence continues to threaten stability in Central Africa, Special Representative tells Security Council, calling for greater international efforts.

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Despite gains in Central Africa, from fostering peace to fighting the COVID‑19 pandemic, tensions and pockets of continued violence continue to threaten stability and civilian safety, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the subregion told the Security Council today.

Addressing these multiple threats — from terrorist attacks to border skirmishes — requires coordinated efforts and strong support from the international community, said François Louncény Fall, who also serves as Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA). Briefing the Council on the Secretary-General’s latest situation report (document S/2021/517), he highlighted recent developments, providing a snapshot of pressing challenges and outlining how UNOCA is helping Governments to address them.

He commended efforts to overcome such challenges as elections and border tensions between Chad and the Central African Republic, including the outcomes of meetings of the African Union Peace and Security Council, United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) Commission. For its part, UNOCA is working with Governments and partners, including with Cameroon, to foster dialogue to address ongoing clashes in the country’s north-west and south-west. The situation in Chad following the death of President Idriss Déby Itno reflects similar challenges facing the subregion in addressing the consequences of unexpected changes in Government. In this vein, the United Nations priority will be to support the efforts of the African Union and ECCAS to accompany the transition.

Turning to other concerns, he said a recent technical mission to the four countries affected by Boko Haram (Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria) found that coordination between the affected States must be strengthened amid the current deteriorating security situation. Efforts must also focus on the increased insecurity seen in maritime areas and the chronic threats posed by the Boko Haram, the Lord’s Resistance Army and Islamic State West Africa Province.

While the pandemic continues to impact these and other ongoing efforts, he said the situation is improving in the subregion, which has the continent’s lowest number of infections and deaths. Echoing the Secretary-General’s recommendation for a three-year extension for UNOCA, he said that given these recent developments, extending the mandate can help States to overcome security challenges, promote the involvement of women, youth and civil society in various efforts and combat climate change threats.

In the ensuing debate, Council members roundly commended ongoing initiatives to broker peace and work towards restoring stability in affected States. Some raised concerns about ongoing threats, including interfering with State affairs. Many delegates voiced support for the Secretary-General’s recommendation to renew the UNOCA mandate, which expires on 31 August, and commended related regional efforts, including those led by the African Union.

Expressing concern at Boko Haram attacks, Niger’s representative, also speaking on behalf of Kenya, Tunisia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, agreed with the Secretary-General’s recommendation for more cooperation to counter threats posed by that group as well as address the root causes of conflict. As conflict and terrorist attacks have displaced millions cross the subregion, he called on the United Nations, UNOCA, ECCAS and others to mobilize more humanitarian funding, while also praising increased cooperation among regional leaders, including the decision by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea to refer their border dispute to the International Court of Justice.

The representative of China, noting that the situation in Cameroon is an internal matter, said the international community should continue to respect the sovereignty and leadership of States in the region, support their development and encourage regional and subregional organizations to play a greater role.

The United States delegate remained concerned about the Russian Federation being involved with human rights violations in the subregion, adding that his delegation supports regional efforts to address the many challenges it faces.

The representative of the Russian Federation, highlighting what she said were baseless remarks made by her United States counterpart, recalled that the Western intervention in Libya in 2011 and the ensuing conflict led to the very tragic situation in the region today. Echoing a concern frequently voiced today about the situation in the Gulf of Guinea, she recommended that United Nations mechanisms become more actively involved to counter piracy and maritime crime.

Some delegates spotlighted the threat of terrorist activities, with Mexico’s representative stressing the importance of implementing a regional strategy for combating such threats in the Lake Chad Basin region and other areas.

Also speaking were representatives of the United Kingdom, India, Norway, France, Viet Nam, Ireland and Estonia.

The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 11:30 a.m.

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