Addressing West Africa and the Sahel’s security challenges

Addressing West Africa and the Sahel’s security challenges

Thank you, President. I am grateful to our briefers for their presentations. I also thank former SRSG Mahamat Saleh Annadif for his dedicated service.
President, I will make three points focusing on democracy, security and humanitarian issues.
First, the United Kingdom is concerned by the democratic backsliding, and the shrinking of civic space, that the region experienced in 2022. We urge progress towards the restoration of constitutional governments in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea within agreed timeframes. We commend ECOWAS and African Union efforts to make this happen.
2023 will be an important year for democracy in West Africa with Presidential elections in Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Liberia. UNOWAS has an important role to play, including through its good offices. The United Kingdom welcomes the focus we have heard today on boosting women’s participation in these processes.
Second, President, there has been a clear deterioration in the security situation in the region –– notably in Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin. We share concerns raised today about the risk of instability spreading to the coastal states.
President, we cannot ignore the destabilising role the Wagner Group plays in the region. They are part of the problem, not the solution.
Tackling the region’s security challenges requires a holistic response. This includes the need to recognise the security impact of climate change, which multiplies the threats faced by vulnerable populations, for example, through changes in rainfall patterns.
We welcome UNOWAS’s efforts to enhance coherence and coordination, including by supporting the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel and the Accra Initiative. UNOWAS must use its new mandate to focus on tackling the root causes of conflict.
For our part, the United Kingdom is building our bilateral cooperation through security dialogues with Ghana and Nigeria. And we are enhancing multilateral cooperation through the UN Development Programme’s Regional Stabilisation Facility.
Third, the humanitarian situation in the Sahel remains dire, compounded by rising prices and floods. The United Kingdom remains committed to our humanitarian efforts in the region. We call on all actors to ensure full cooperation as well as safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance.
In closing, President, we look forward to UNOWAS’s mandate renewal and the appointment of a new SRSG so that the Office can continue to support regional efforts towards peace and prosperity. Thank you

»Addressing West Africa and the Sahel’s security challenges«

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