National Statement by Sweden at the Briefing on the Security Council Mission to the Lake Chad Basin Region

Published

National Statement by Sweden, Ambassador Carl Skau, at the briefing on the Security Council Mission to the Lake Chad Basin Region. Thursday, 09 March 2017, New York.

Mr President, Madam Deputy Secretary-General,

Over the week this Council turned its eyes and opened its ears to the people of the Lake Chad Basin region. What we have seen and heard will not be easily forgotten, nor should it be.

Millions of people are displaced across four countries as a result of the brutal insurgency of Boko Haram; we heard of lives disrupted and their livelihoods destroyed.

Displacement has led to vulnerability - particularly for women and girls. We heard chilling stories of husbands murdered, children abducted and killed, while women themselves are subjected to sexual violence.

Millions more are suffering from hunger and malnutrition. We have heard that the threat of famine looms.

Yet, amongst the desperation there is hope. We have seen how host communities have welcomed the displaced into their homes and villages; sharing already scarce resources. I pay special tribute to them. We commend the efforts underway by relevant authorities to mitigate the consequences of this crisis. I also commend the work of humanitarian workers and local NGOs who are at the front line of the response.

However, more is needed to avoid a humanitarian disaster of historic proportions. To begin with, there must be rapid disbursement of the pledges made in Oslo. I am happy to report that Sweden has already done so, and I call upon others to follow. Secondly, every effort must be made to ensure this assistance is able to reach even the most remote and hard to reach areas.

Mr President,

It is clear that the regional nature of the Boko Haram threat requires a regional response. Countries of the region are working together, including through the Multinational Joint Taskforce (MNJTF), which is making progress and deserves further international support. We call for the rapid deployment of the African Union civilian component of the task force.

We need to ensure that the response does not increase the suffering of an already brutalised population. In this regard, we welcome the commitment expressed by all governments in the region to the protection of civilians and human rights, in line with the 2016 Abuja Action Statement. Counter-terrorism measures must comply with international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights law. We urge the UN to enhance its human rights presence on the ground to support monitoring and capacity building in this regard.

We encourage governments to develop enhanced prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration approaches to deal with persons associated with Boko Haram and to increase coordination among the countries in this regard. Children must always be treated as children, and handover protocols that prioritise children should be adopted.

Mr President,

The roots of the conflict run deeper than the Boko Haram insurgency. They include abject poverty, climate change and underdevelopment. Indeed, the situation in the Lake Chad Basin region vividly demonstrates the links between security, development and human rights, as well as climate change related risks. In Niamey, President Issoufou cited the shrinking of Lake Chad as a direct and major reason for the rise of Boko Haram. It is exactly the type of situation that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustaining Peace agenda were created to respond to.

Working within the framework of the 2030 Agenda, we must see a coordinated — and better linked — humanitarian, reconstruction and development response.

This multidimensional crisis represents an example of where the UN system can take an integrated approach. We look forward to supporting the Deputy Secretary-General as she leads the reform of the UN Development System to better respond to such crises.

Mr President,

Yesterday we celebrated international women's day. The women we met in Maroua and Maiduguri, despite the challenges they face on a daily basis, are survivors and leaders not victims. Faced with the visiting Security Council, they clearly told us their stories – so we would know their realities - and set out their needs – so we would know how to respond. We must not let them down.

It is clear that women play a vital role in prevention, peacebuilding and de-radicalisation efforts. Improving education, in particular for girls, and ending early-age marriage are central components to development in the region. We were encouraged by the development of National Actions Plans on Women, Peace and Security. Words must now be translated into actions through the allocation of adequate resources and meaningful implementation.

Mr President, Madam Deputy Secretary-General,

Now that we have seen the crisis that is unfolding in the Lake Chad Basin, we must ensure that we actively follow-up on our engagement and on the findings of this trip.

This is why we would like to see the Council agree a Presidential Statement that sets out a roadmap for the way forward that, amongst other actions, encourages the following:

First, leadership from the Secretary-General, including by visiting the region and reporting back to the Council;

Second, the semi-annual briefings on UNOWAS and UNOCA, as well as recurring Council meetings under the agenda item "Peace and Security in Africa", to be used as fora for follow-up on the findings of our visit;

Third, development of a comprehensive regional strategy to address the drivers of the conflict, in line with existing national plans and supported by development partners and International Financial Institutions (IFI);

Fourth, efforts to strengthen the links between humanitarian assistance and longer-term development measures, focusing on early recovery and the provision of alternative livelihoods, not least in local host communities.

Fifth, organisation of a Third Regional Security Summit to focus on post-conflict stabilisation, early recovery and reconstruction;

And sixth, enhanced capacity of UNOWAS and UNOCA to jointly coordinate UN engagement in the region and report on progress in this regard.

Let me conclude by thanking the Governments of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, as well as the co-leads, the UN secretariat and their colleagues on the ground, for making this visit a true success.

Thank you Mr President

Contact

Lisa Laskaridis
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