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Terrorism, humanitarian crises threaten stability of West Africa: UN deputy chief

At an event commemorating the 49th anniversary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed noted progress made, alongside immediate challenges.  

“Over the last decade, the region has seen an exponential rise in terrorism that has reversed its development gains. This has been further exacerbated by the resurgence of unconstitutional changes of government posing a significant threat to regional stability,” she said.

Humanitarian needs are rising amid the web of crises, “creating new dynamics, bringing new risks of conflicts, beyond the region”.

“ECOWAS at 49 serves as a reminder that the road ahead is challenging, but it is also filled with potential. This requires both a multilateral and regional response to the complexities each country faces,” Ms. Mohammed added.

Collective solutions

The Deputy Secretary-General underscored the need to use “all existing tools”, while also designing new solutions collectively to meet the expectations of the people.

Peace and security must underpin the ‘Vision for Africa’ in the African Union’s Agenda 2063 socio-economic development framework, with a strong emphasis on strong democratic institutions, she said.

“The values of democracy and good governance still hold true for our region. But recent developments tell us that populations are putting in question our models of democracy and the need to be made fit for purpose in line with local realities,” she added, also urging root causes of conflicts in the region to be addressed.

Rescue SDGs

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – woefully off track – must be rescued, the deputy UN chief said.

Efforts must be stepped up to achieve the development targets by the 2030 deadline, with “bold and transformative” actions, Ms. Mohammed said.

She emphasized the need for investments in just energy transitions, food systems, digital connectivity, education and skills, as well as in climate action and social protection.

Once-in-a-generation opportunity

Mr. Mohammed also underscored that September’s Summit of the Future provides a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to address gaps in global governance, including for peace and security as part of the Secretary-General’s New Agenda for Peace.

In that context, Africa will be a vital player in finding ways to end existing conflicts and prevent new ones – with women playing a central role.

“As negotiations for a new Pact for the Future (the outcome of the Summit of the Future) intensify, I encourage all of you to engage in all aspects,” she said.

Silence guns in Gaza, Sudan

In conclusion, the Deputy Secretary-General drew attention to the conflicts in Sudan and in Gaza, “which continue to cause unimaginable suffering, particularly for women and children”.

She reiterated the necessity for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, the unconditional release of all hostages and a pathway to a lasting two-State solution.

“We are united in our call for peace, for silencing the guns across Africa, and for working to end all conflicts around the world,” she concluded.

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