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  • Abdoulaye Bathily, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNOCA, during the Council meeting. The Security Council met to discuss the activities of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) and the progress made in the implementation of the United Nations regional strategy to address the threat and impact of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
Council considers developments in Central Africa subregion. UN Photo/Loey Felipe

Security Council Briefing on the Situation in Central Africa, Special Representative Abdoulaye Bathily

Monsieur le Président,

J’ai l’honneur de vous présenter le Rapport du Secrétaire général sur la situation en Afrique centrale et les activités du Bureau régional des Nations Unies pour l’Afrique centrale (UNOCA).
Ce rapport procède à une mise à jour sur les menaces contre la paix et la sécurité en Afrique centrale. Il passe aussi en revue les activités menées par UNOCA au cours des six derniers mois, de concert avec les Etats Membres et les organisations sous-régionales.
Monsieur le Président,
Depuis la publication du dernier rapport en novembre 2014, la situation politique et sécuritaire dans la sous-région est demeurée une source de préoccupation. 
Ainsi, l’Afrique centrale est encore marquée par des tensions pré-électorales croissantes; une crise économique agravée par la chute des prix du brut pour les pays producteurs de la région; un chômage des jeunes à la hausse; des activités terroristes perpétrées notamment par Boko Haram et l’Armée de Résistance du Seigneur (LRA); ainsi que par l’impact transfrontalier des crises dans un certain nombre de pays de la région, telle que la République centrafricaine et le Burundi. 
Mr. President,
The ongoing crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR) continued to have regional and multidimensional consequences with almost half a million refugees; ongoing gross violations of human rights; the proliferation of small arms and light weapons; growing gang-related criminality; and environmental degradation in refugee areas.
At the request of the Head of State of the Transition and with the agreement of the International Mediator, President Sassou Nguesso of Congo, I chaired the Bangui Forum for National Reconciliation and facilitated its functioning, in close consultation with the International Mediation and SRSG Babacar Gaye of the United Nations Multidimensional Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). This included working to defuse pre-Forum tensions and discouraging spoilers; advising participants, including representatives of the armed groups; ensuring inclusivity and transparency; facilitating ownership of the process by Central Africans; and keeping all actors mindful of a long-term vision for peace.
The Forum concluded on 11 May with the signing of a number of key documents, including a Pacte républicain pour la paix, la réconciliation nationale et la reconstruction en République centrafricaine and an agreement on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR). I wish to acknowledge the transitional authorities and particularly the citizens of CAR for this success. Moving forward, it will be critical to capitalize on the momentum generated by the Forum and to mobilise the required resources for the elections and DDR. 
Mr. President,
Boko Haram remained a serious threat to the Lake Chad Basin region. The dire humanitarian situation in this region, resulting from attacks perpetrated by Boko Haram, continued to affect the population, including hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in Cameroon and Chad. Insecurity and insufficient resources continued to strain the already stretched response capacities of governments and UN entities in the affected countries.
The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) demonstrated its commitment to address the Boko Haram threat during several Summits of Heads of State and Government in which I represented the Secretary-General. The deployment of Chadian troops to the border areas of Cameroon and Nigeria and the recent inauguration of the Headquarters of the Multinational Joint Task Force on Boko Haram (MNJTF) signaled increasing cooperation between States in the fight against Boko Haram. Military operations have put Boko Haram on the defensive, but recent attacks by the terrorist group highlight the need for the affected States to remain vigilant and engaged. While the fight against Boko Haram is not over, we must start looking ahead to the stabilization phase in order to secure military gains. This will involve international support and regional commitment for candidly examining and addressing the root causes of violent extremism.
UNOCA remained both politically and technically engaged in supporting countries of the region address the impact of Boko Haram’s activities in close collaboration with the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA). My Office supported efforts to develop a coordinated humanitarian response and advance operationalization of the MNJTF. I undertook a diplomatic tour with SRSG Chambas of UNOWA to engage the leaders of Boko Haram affected countries. We will continue to support the the region’s collective response to the Boko Haram threat.  
Mr. President,
The Lord’s Resistance Army continued to pose a threat to regional security, particularly to populations in CAR and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. During the period under review, and in spite of ongoing efforts, the number of abductions unfortunately increased. More than 200,000 persons still remain displaced across the region. The group is also involved in illicit trade of natural resources to finance its activities.
The surrender of senior LRA commander Dominic Ongwen in January 2015, and his subsequent transfer to the International Criminal Court, marks a significant step forward with regard to criminal justice. Ongwen’s removal from the battlefield sends a strong message to remaining LRA fighters and signifies that international efforts to combat the group, within the framework of the United Nations and African Union regional strategies, are bearing fruit.
UNOCA remained actively engaged on the LRA issue to ensure the implementation of the United Nations regional strategy on the LRA and to ensure international coordination through the convening of the bi-annual coordination meeting of LRA focal points. UNOCA also worked in close collaboration with the African Union to ensure the political commitment of LRA affected countries to this cause. The African Union Special Envoy for the LRA, General Jackson Tuwei, and I met with the Ugandan authorities in Kampala to emphasize the importance of the Government’s sustained political and operational commitment to the African Union Regional Task Force.
I would like to express my gratitude for the work undertaken by the AU-RTF in this process and whose mandate was recently renewed, on 18 May, by the African Union Peace and Security Council.
Mr. President,
Maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea, continued to pose serious security threats and have economic consequences for Central and West African States. In coordination with UNOWA, UNOCA continued working with concerned States to consolidate their efforts in combatting maritime insecurity. 
Central Africa remained plagued by cross-border criminal activities including the illicit trade in wildlife used to support the activities of armed groups such as the LRA. Further to the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and ECCAS, UNOCA will support Central Africa in the development of a sub-regional strategy to tackle the growing phenomenon of poaching
Mr. President,
Central Africa entered an electoral cycle ending in 2018. Political tensions in the run-up to elections are on the rise in some countries. Issues related to amending constitutional term limits are dividing electorates. Violent confrontations have led to the loss of lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi. Social grievances are percolating, exacerbated by the economic contraction in the sub-region’s many oil-producing States.
In this context, I continued to use the good offices of the Secretary-General to engage political stakeholders across the sub-region and encourage the peaceful resolution of disputes. As a result of the support provided by UNOCA and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, journalist from Central Africa adopted a code of conduct articulating their responsibilities in support of peaceful electoral processes. UNOCA also organized the third meeting of UN presences in Central Africa, which took place on 18 May and focused on increasing internal coherence and efficacy in preventing and and managing electoral violence in the sub-region. The United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa took place on 4 June with UNOCA’s assistance. The meeting adopted ministerial declarations on Burundi and CAR to reaffirm the region’s support.
Mr. President,
Despite the many challenges they face, Central African leaders have undertaken important initiatives in the interest of their populations. On 6 May, Heads of State of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) decided to implement the free movement of peoples in the six countries of the CEMAC zone, signalling a major step towards greater regional integration.
Meanwhile, ECCAS Heads of State continued to work collectively the CAR as well as in response to the instability caused by Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin region.  ECCAS Heads of State also decided appoint a Special Envoy for Burundi and the Great Lakes region to appeal to the Burundian parties to seek to resolve their differences through peaceful means. UNOCA will continue to suppor these and other sub-regional initiatives that advance long-term stability.
Mr. President,
The report before you also presents the findings and recommendations of the recent Strategic Review of UNOCA’s mandate and activities. Since its establishment five years ago, UNOCA has demonstrated its added value in a fragile sub-region with enormous internal and cross-border security challenges. The Secretary-General encourages Member States to support the recommendations of the Strategic Review. With the continued support of this august body, UNOCA shall continue to be a steadfast partner to Central African States in the promotion of peace and stability.
Thank you.