Security Council reviews situation in the Sahel

On 11 July, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), delivered his first Security Council briefing on West Africa and the Sahel since the merging of the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) and the Office of the Special Envoy for the Sahel (OSES), establishing UNOWAS. His report focused on the overall security situation in the region recalling the recent terrorist attacks in Ouagadougou (15 January) and Grand Bassam (13 March). He said international action should focus on strengthening regional forces mobilised under the Multi National Joint Task Force. “Capacities, in particular in the area of intelligence gathering, need to be stepped up”, he said, adding that more efforts must be made to meet the basic needs of civilians. There are more than 6 million food insecure people in the Sahel currently, and only 11% of the UN appeal of USD 1.98 billion in 2016 has been mobilised. Strengthening democratic governance and addressing root causes is another top priority in conflict prevention efforts. The region will hold several elections before the end of 2016 (legislative elections in Côte d’Ivoire, presidential elections in The Gambia, and legislative and presidential elections in Ghana). Moreover, Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Senegal and Sierra Leone are engaged in constitutional reform processes. “We have good hope that these West African and Sahel countries will emerge from these reform efforts more cohesive, better governed, and with more women taking part in decision-making”, Chambas said.