To The United Nations Security Council, Lénardo Santos Simao Presents The Secretary General’s Report On United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) Activities And The Situation In West Africa

To The United Nations Security Council, Lénardo Santos Simao Presents The Secretary General’s Report On United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) Activities And The Situation In West Africa

To The United Nations Security Council, Lénardo Santos Simao Presents The Secretary General’s Report On United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) Activities And The Situation In West Africa

To The United Nations Security Council, Lénardo Santos Simao Presents The Secretary General’s Report On United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) Activities And The Situation In West Africa

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Léonardo Santos Simão, today presented to the United Nations Security Council the Secretary-General’s latest report on the activities of UNOWAS. The report covers the period from 31 December 2022 to 29 June 2023.

The persistence of socio-political tensions and the shrinking of civic and political space, the humanitarian situation which has worsened with the deterioration of the security situation, the role of women, particularly in the implementation of the Peace and Security Agenda, as well as the activities of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission relating to border demarcation, were the major points addressed by Mr. Simao in his first presentation of the Secretary-General’s report to the Security Council as Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel.

Addressing members of the Security Council, Mr. Simao stressed that although elections in several countries have marked important steps towards democratic consolidation, they were often keenly contested, exposing real challenges. “In a number of countries, there were concerns over a shrinking civic and political space, the lack of transparency in vote tabulation and transmission, which undermined citizens’ trust in the electoral processes,” he lamented.

Still on the political front, taking due note of the ongoing transition processes in Guinea, and Burkina Faso for a return to constitutional order within the allotted time, Mr. Simão insisted on “the need to unite efforts to achieve this major objective.”

The Special Representative referred to the worrying humanitarian situation with 6.3 million people displaced across the Sahel and stressed that the “alarming rate of food insecurity in the sub-region, particularly in areas where instability, has led to the interruption of agricultural production.”

The security situation in the central Sahel continues to deteriorate and insecurity continues to spread southwards to coastal countries, while there has been a decline in terrorist attacks and insecurity-related deaths in and around the Lake Chad Basin regions of Niger and Nigeria.  “The Multinational Joint Task Force in the Lake Chad Basin has shown that regional efforts can create an enabling environment that has resulted in signs of improvement in the Lake Chad Basin,” said Mr. Simão. He further called for “sustained political and financial commitment to operationalize the activities under the Accra initiative” and to “join forces, with the African Union, ECOWAS and the member states concerned, to take decisive action to stem insecurity in the Sahel.”

The Special Representative praised the progress made by the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission in charge of implementing the ruling of the International Court of Justice on the border dispute between the two countries, since its creation in 2002. ” Final mapping and the construction of pillars demarcating the border between the two countries are proceeding steadily, with only three areas of disagreement remaining,” he said. He called for financial support to stimulate confidence-building between the affected communities.

Mr. Simão called for greater commitment to the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, and the Youth Agenda for Peace and Security. “The continued underrepresentation of women across the region in political processes and decision-making not only deprives half of the population of essential rights but is also a massive impediment to development,” said the Representative.

The Special Representative reiterated UNOWAS’ commitment to working with regional and international partners ” to consolidate much-needed peace, security and democracy in West Africa and the Sahel.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS).