The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres has called for expedient and sustainable support for countries in Africa to tackle terrorism and climate change.
Addressing a UN Security Council open debate on peace and security in Africa at the UN headquarters in New York on Monday, Mr Guterres said it was imperative to tackle both challenges for the sake of peace and security across Africa.
In a speech on the role of preventative diplomacy, conflict prevention and resolution in Africa, he noted that terrorism was a growing threat across the continent, with serious implications for peace and security everywhere.
Mr Guterres told the Security Council debate that “in the Sahel, terrorist groups regularly attack local and international security forces. The violence is spreading to coastal states along the Gulf of Guinea.”
“In Nigeria, boko haram and its splinter factions are terrorising local communities and attacking security forces, despite the efforts of the Multinational Joint Task Force.”
“We are seeing terrorist networks across Libya and North Africa, stretching through the Sahel to the Lake Chad region, as well as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mozambique,” Guterres stated.
“This is a battle we are not winning. And this is not just a regional issue but a clear and present danger to global peace and security,” Mr Guterres warned.
According to the UN Scribe, the impact of the crisis in Libya is spreading throughout the region, as weapons and fighters continually move across borders.
“Peace in Mali is also essential to peace in the Sahel region. I do hope that despite the terrible attacks in the Mopti region last week, plans for an inclusive political dialogue will facilitate the implementation of the 2015 peace agreement,” he said.
Mr Guterres called on the UN Security Council to support the African Union’s peacekeeping mission in Somalia, the joint military force of five Sahel countries and the Multinational Joint Task Force against boko haram.
The UN Scribe said the global climate crisis is another vital subject where preventive measures are urgently needed.
According to him, climate-related risks, including droughts, floods and changing rainfall patterns, often intersect with political, social and economic factors.
“We must urgently reduce emissions to prevent catastrophic consequences for sustainable development and security across Africa and step up support for the countries most affected.”
“Today, it is indisputable that climate change has aggravated security challenges, particularly in the Sahel,” he added.
The UN chief explained that “nearly half of Africa’s population of 1.3 billion are under the age of 15.
“Education, training and job opportunities for this generation must be central to any development strategy. Women’s meaningful participation and leadership are essential to lasting peace.”
“Sustainable and inclusive development, are the most effective ways to address the underlying causes of conflict, extremism and terrorism,” Mr Guterres argued.
Poverty and Inequality:
The UN Scribe urged Security Council member states to work with African countries to tackle poverty and inequality, strengthen state institutions and civil society and promote human rights, which are all essential in the prevention of conflict and building resilient communities and societies.
“Across the continent, the United Nations is working in steadfast and close cooperation with the African Union and African regional organisations to prevent and resolve conflicts,” he said.
The UN Scribe reiterated the United Nations strong support for the African Union’s “Silence the Guns 2020” initiative as a basis for advancing peace and security, which he noted, potentially offers a safer and better future.
“When prevention fails, the United Nations works with partners to reduce suffering, resolve conflicts and build sustainable peace,” he said.
Mr Guterres stressed that today, Africa is the largest troop-contributing region to UN peacekeeping operations.
“We owe these Blue Helmets our strong and united support, through robust funding and strong mandates,” he stated.
The largest UN peacekeeping missions, comprising more than 80,000 peacekeepers, are deployed across the African continent.