I have the honour to present the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in Central Africa and the activities of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA). The report before you presents the main threats to peace and security in Central Africa, as well as an update on the activities undertaken by UNOCA in the last six months, in consultation with Member States, United Nations entities, and sub-regional organizations.
The successful holding of presidential and legislative elections in the Central African Republic has brought the Transition to an end. I am pleased that the country has reached this important milestone, putting the Central African Republic back on the path of sustainable peace, development and longer-term peacebuilding. I commend the Governments, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic and other United Nations entities, as well as partners that have worked tirelessly to end the crisis in the Central African Republic. President Faustin Archange Touadéra enjoys widespread support and the population wants and needs change for the better. At the same time, the challenges before the Central African Republic remain immense, in the context of ongoing, serious protection and humanitarian needs, crushing poverty and urgent requirements in the areas of disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation as well as on security sector reform. Armed groups still control large parts of the country, and the Government is in need of the full political, programmatic and financial support of the international community to ensure the re-establishment of state authority throughout the country. Despite recent positive developments, it is critical that partners remain engaged and redouble their assistance to the country across all the thematic areas of need, in order to take advantage of the window of opportunity that is before us. I commend the Governments of the Economic Community of Central African States for their invaluable support to the Central African Republic to date and encourage them to continue to accompany the Central African Republic in its post-transition efforts.
As I previewed during my last briefing in December, there are political tensions of concern in other countries in Central Africa linked to recent or upcoming electoral processes. This undermines the ongoing work to consolidate stability, development and democracy in countries of the sub-region and also the necessary work of integration across the area. I will continue to use my good offices to engage with stakeholders in the sub-region to encourage the peaceful resolution of these disputes. I also believe that it is crucial to redouble our conflict prevention efforts in countries where elections are still due to take place this year, including through the promotion of inclusive political dialogue.
Since my last briefing to the Council, I am pleased to report that the collective efforts of the Lake Chad Basin countries have reduced the capacity of Boko Haram to undertake frequent attacks, as it had in the past. The cross-border operations by the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) have captured Boko Haram fighters, freed captives and reclaimed territory from the terrorist group. However, the ability to conduct precise counter-insurgency operations is often compromised, due to an assessment by security forces that Boko Haram operatives live among the local population. Despite the successes realized, Boko Haram continues to pose a serious threat to regional stability. The group persists in targeting civilians, including through suicide attacks, often using young girls as bombers. Additionally, the risk that Boko Haram attracts or catalyzes other terrorist threats in the sub-region should not be discounted. While humanitarian assistance has been mobilized for the populations affected by Boko Haram, the number of internally displaced persons and refugees fleeing from Boko Haram violence continues to rise, with limited funding received thus far to address the growing humanitarian needs.
For these reasons, it is crucial that international partners maintain their support to the region to end the threat posed by the group and stress the need for a holistic regional approach, as emphasized during the Second Regional Security Summit, held in Abuja on 14 May. I urge the international community to support the Multi-National Joint Task Force through the mobilization of requisite political, logistical and financial support in a flexible manner.
While assistance to the MNJTF is critical, so is the need to finance and implement early recovery and development activities in the affected areas. In this regard, I will continue to work in close cooperation with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel to engage the concerned Governments and the sub-regional bodies ECCAS and ECOWAS to ensure their continued support to the MNJTF and the allocation of adequate humanitarian and development assistance to the affected populations. We will also continue to encourage them to ensure that counter-terrorism operations are carried out in full compliance with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law. However, the support and assistance of the international community to reduce the burden on the affected States will be crucial to winning the fight against Boko Haram.
The LRA continues to threaten the security of the population in its operating area and has notably increased its alleged attacks in the Central African Republic during the reporting period, reportedly extending into areas that had previously seen little to no LRA movement. Group elements have also persisted in attacking the civilian population in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Overall, the LRA appears now to be deviating from what had been for a certain period of time a low-profile posture, with attacks against larger and less isolated population areas being noted and an increased number of children kidnapped and kept. We must keep this in mind and continue our efforts until the job is finally completed.
UNOCA has continued its active engagement to fill coordination gaps on the LRA issue during the reporting period, convening the bi-annual meeting of LRA focal points in April and also, together with the African Union and other United Nations partners, organizing a workshop in March to identify more clearly the respective roles and responsibilities of different actors in LRA-affected countries that are assisting LRA members who have defected or escaped from the group. UNOCA also assisted in the organization of a meeting of the African Union’s Joint Coordination Mechanism in May, which called for the mobilization of additional resources for the Regional Task Force, a particularly important issue given the decision of Uganda to withdraw from the force in the near future. The UN is concerned about the impact of Uganda’s potential withdrawal on the security situation in eastern Central African Republic and calls on all stakeholders, including the Governments of Uganda and of the Central African Republic, as well as partners, to ensure that a potential departure of Ugandan troops is undertaken in an orderly and coordinated manner.
I am pleased to report that progress has been made in the operationalization of the regional strategy on maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, to include a number of recommendations having been adopted regarding the programme of activities, budget, and administration of the Interregional Coordination Centre. I also welcome the scheduling of the African Union summit on maritime security and development in Lomé in October.
In all of UNOCA’s work, our principal partner remains the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and during the reporting period we have focused on the further strengthening of the relationship between the two institutions. This has included coordination with the Secretary-General of ECCAS on the provision of UNOCA support for the reform of ECCAS’ institutions, as well as the conclusion of a new cooperation framework agreement to guide our joint action. In this context, I welcome the briefing of Secretary-General Ahmad Allam-Mi to the Council today.
We look forward to the continued engagement of the Security Council in promoting peace and security in Central Africa. UNOCA will continue to work closely with Member States of the sub-region towards this important endeavor.
I thank you for your attention.