Security situation in Sahel has worsened: UN envoy

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Nearly 7,000 health centres were forced to shut down due to the activities of armed groups, violent extremists and criminal networks, she told the Security Council in a briefing…reports Asian Lite News

The security situation has deteriorated in large parts of West Africa and the Sahel despite efforts by national security forces and international partners, said a UN envoy.

In the past six months, more than 10,000 schools across the Sahel had to close, leaving millions of children unable to acquire the necessary skills to build their lives and their countries, said Giovanie Biha, the UN Secretary-General’s deputy special representative and officer-in-charge of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS).

Nearly 7,000 health centres were forced to shut down due to the activities of armed groups, violent extremists and criminal networks, she told the Security Council in a briefing.

“These non-state armed groups are fighting among themselves for supremacy and control of resources, pushing states to the margin and causing untold misery to millions of people who had to leave their communities to seek safety,” she said.

“Indeed, the central Sahel continues to face multidimensional challenges, unprecedented levels of security and humanitarian challenges, socio-political instability, further compounded by the impact of climate change, and food insecurity, which was exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine.”

Against this backdrop, UNOWAS supports the Independent High-Level Panel on Security and Development in the Sahel led by former Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou, to find more innovative solutions and generate national, regional, and international commitment for change in the Sahel, Biha added.

A holistic approach is necessary and the establishment of the initiative’s joint force is an important development in this regard, she said.

Despite the many challenges facing the countries of the region, especially the Sahel, the region remains a land of immense opportunities. The UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel has leveraged these opportunities through its three pillars of building resilience, promoting good governance, and strengthening peace and security, Biha added.

“In accordance with our mandate, we will continue to work together with our regional and international partners for the consolidation of peace, security and democracy in West Africa and the Sahel.”

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