Dakar, 09 July 2014 – The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for West Africa and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA), Mr. Said Djinnit, briefed yesterday the United Nations Security Council at the occasion of the presentation of the 13th report of the Secretary-General report on the activities of UNOWA.
Mr. Djinnit commended the effort by the region to promote development and economic growth, while acknowledging the challenges for West African countries to meet social expectations. He saluted the peaceful conclusion of the political transition in Guinea Bissau as well as the resumption of dialogue between the Government and the armed movements in Mali.
With regard to the capacity to respond to crises, the Special Representative welcomed the steps being taken by the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) towards setting up appropriate rapid response mechanisms.
Identifying the critical challenges that have a potential to undermine peace and stability in West Africa, the Special Representative highlighted the transnational security challenges, including organized crime, drug trafficking, piracy and criminality at sea, as well as the growing activities of terrorist networks. He called on West African countries to establish effective strategic and operational cooperation mechanisms.
As a new electoral cycle will commence in the West African region in 2015, SRSG Djinnit warned of the polarized context in some of countries involved, and recommended that all efforts should be directed towards preserving stability and consolidating democracy through dialogue.
Mr. Djinnit highlighted the importance of the integrated regional initiatives, which are being supported by UNOWA, in close collaboration with ECOWAS, and which include the strategy for cross-border security in the Mano River Union (MRU), the strategic framework for maritime security and safety in the Gulf of Guinea, and the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel. He particularly reiterated his belief in the potential of the Mano River Union to become a beacon of prosperity and stability in West Africa, and insisted on the need for coordination and complementarity of efforts with regard to the international action in Sahel.
SRSG Djinnit, who is also the High Representative of the Secretary-General in the context of the ongoing insecurity in Nigeria, deplored that the school girls abducted by Boko Haram in Chibok in April 2014 remain in captivity, and that the level of violence against innocent civilians continue unabated, resulting in tragic losses of human lives and significant displacement of populations, and adversely affecting security in the sub region.
‘Nigeria is at a crossroads’, said Said Djinnit, assessing the overall situation in the country amidst the political tensions in the period leading up to the 2015 general elections. In that regard, he called on the Council members to continue to lend their support to efforts and initiatives aimed at ensuring stability in Nigeria, a country that has been playing a pivotal role in the maintenance of regional peace and security.
SRSG Djinnit particularly encouraged the countries of the Lake Chad Basin to consolidate their joint action within the framework of the Paris Summit and the London follow up ministerial meeting, and welcomed the prospect of the African Union to deploy a Task Force to the region to address the challenge posed by the activities of Boko Haram.