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Statement by Ambassador Abdou ABARRY,

Permanent Representative of Niger to the United Nations

On behalf of A3 and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Security Council Briefing on the G5-Sahel joint force

New York 16 November 2020

Thank you, Madam President,

On behalf of the A3+1, namely South Africa, Tunisia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Niger, I would like to express our sincere thanks to Mr. Jean Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, for his excellent briefing and his sustained commitment to the stabilization of the Sahel.

We also thank the Permanent Representative of Mali, Mr. Issa Konfourou, for his participation in today's briefing on behalf of the G5 Sahel, Ambassador Bob Rae, Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, and Mr. Koen Vervaeke, Director General for Africa at the European External Action Service.

Madam President,

Before getting to the heart of the matter, I would like to welcome the fact that this time around the report under consideration has taken into account the perspectives emanating from the Joint Force, which is the main subject of the report. This has undoubtedly been made possible through increased collaboration and information-sharing with countries and relevant actors on the ground.

Madam President,

The Sahel region faces multiple and multifaceted challenges with devastating consequences for states and their populations.

The nexus between development and security is clearly established in this region where these phenomena interact with each other in a feedback loop effect. In this context, we stress the need for a holistic approach comprising political, security and socio-economic development interventions that will lead to lasting peace and stability in the region. Furthermore, we believe that this cannot be achieved without addressing the root causes of terrorism in the Sahel.

In this regard, the A3+1 welcome the foresight of the G5 Sahel authorities that led to the adoption of a Security and Development Strategy (SDS) in 2016, the implementation of which is based on a Priority Investment Program (PIP) and focuses on governance, resilience, security and infrastructure.

It comprises a portfolio of 40 structuring projects with a total value of nearly €2 billion (13% financed by member states). Its first phase began in 2019 and will be completed in 2021.

It remains clear that in the Sahel, the PIP remains important and is the relevant framework for urgently needed interventions. Its implementation must therefore continue to be a priority, just as it must remain the channel through which international support must be provided, giving priority to local skills and enterprises.

In order to do so, two priorities seem fundamental to us:

· Financing quick-impact projects based on private sector involvement, in good collaboration with the decentralized authorities;

· Target border regions so that the job opportunities that will be created provide a credible alternative to the recruitment of young people by armed groups.

This is why the A3+1 insisted on taking into account local content through Resolution 2531.

We therefore welcome all efforts to establish a facility to coordinate financing to Sahelian entities, which remains a guarantee of success for all our actions on the ground.

With regard to the implementation of the PIP, by way of illustration, we can cite a pilot cross-border cooperation initiative, called the Integrated Territorial Development Project (PATI), between the municipalities of the Sahel (Burkina Faso), Timbuktu (Mali) and Tillabéri (Niger) regions - home to 5.5 million inhabitants, planned for a period of one year and financed to the tune of 1 billion CFA francs ($1.8 million) by the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU).

Madam President,

The Secretary-General's report also highlights the deterioration of the humanitarian situation, which aggravates the fragility of the G5 states in the Sahel and the living conditions of the affected populations.

Indeed, in 2020, some 31.4 million Sahelians are unfortunately in need of assistance and protection. The effects of COVID 19, food insecurity climate change, and floods have unfortunately complicated the situation.

In this context, we welcome the holding of the ministerial round table on the Central Sahel (Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso) held in Copenhagen on October 20, and co-organized by the United Nations, Denmark, the European Union and Germany, on the humanitarian crisis in this region.

The A3+1 also welcome, in this regard, the pledges made in terms of funding for humanitarian interventions, amounting to $996.8 million for 2020 and $725.4 million for 2021; and encourages international partners to give priority to the States concerned and their specialized agencies in the implementation of the programs identified.

Madam President,

With regard to the security situation, we welcome the improvement of the situation in the Liptako-Gourma region as a result of the ongoing operations by Joint Force aimed at cutting off the various supply channels for armed terrorist and organized criminal groups.

However, security threats remain of great concern and we condemn the increase in terrorist attacks against the defense and security forces and the growing inter-communal violence provoked by local armed groups as well as terrorist groups.

The A3+1 welcome the increase in the operational capacity and the pace of operations of the Joint Force, whose successes are increasingly regular, as well as the operationalization of its police component. Operation SAMA 1 is an encouraging illustration in this regard.

Moreover, the announcement made on 5 October in Nouakchott, during the eighth ordinary session of the G5 Sahel Council of Ministers, of the forthcoming deployment of a Chadian battalion to participate in Operation SAMA 2, further reassures us in the fight against terrorism, particularly in the central zone.

We welcome the continued efforts of the African Union Peace and Security Council to work toward the upcoming deployment of 3,000 members of the African Union Standby Force, which will further strengthen the fight against terrorism in the region.

Madam President,

In terms of Joint Force performance, the operations of the last ten months in all three areas of operations have permitted to:

· Neutralize and/or arrest one hundred and twenty-three (123) terrorists;

· Arrest one hundred and four (104) traffickers;

· Seize, recover or destroy two hundred and fourteen (214) motorcycles and seventeen (17) vehicles;

· Destroy several logistics depots or improvised explosive device manufacturing sites;

· Recover nearly two hundred (200) weapons and thousands of munitions of all calibers.

At the same time, the restructuring of the G5 Sahel Executive Secretariat has made it more operational. This has enabled it to provide more effective support to the Joint Force.

The A3+1 welcome the decisive support provided by MINUSMA to the Joint Force, including in Mali in the context of the stabilization and gradual restoration of State authority in the center and north of the country. The same applies to the measures taken in recent months by the Mission in the context of the implementation of resolution 2351 (2020) and the completion of the construction and handover of the temporary headquarters of the Joint Force, which has considerably improved the Force's ability to operate more effectively.

However, recent events in Mali serves as wake-up call for us to redouble our efforts to help the country ensure the integrity of its territory and the security of its population.

It is clear that the return of defense and security forces throughout the country is a prerequisite for the return of regional administrations, which is why it is essential that Malian authorities consolidate their hold in the regions concerned.

The A3+1 welcome the significant progress made by the Joint Force in developing and implementing the human rights and international humanitarian law compliance framework, including the establishment of the Mechanism for Identification, Monitoring and Analysis of Civilian Victims (MISAD). This illustrates the strong commitment of the G5 countries in the Sahel to respect human rights and international humanitarian law.

Madam President,

While we rightly appreciate the progress made in the collaboration and support provided by MINUSMA to the G5 Sahel Joint Force, it clear that this mode of support is neither adequate nor sufficient in the context of the fight against terrorism.

The Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, has reiterated this view in numerous reports, including in his latest assessment of this support.

If the Joint Force is eventually to become self-sustaining, we would ultimately have to implement the recommendations of the assessments relating to support for the Joint Force.

This would require the establishment of a UN support office dedicated to the Joint Force and funded by assessed contributions from member states.

In doing so, consideration should be given to the provisions of resolution 2391, which clearly stipulates that support to the Joint Force should not affect the performance of MINUSMA.

In addition, the current socio-political and security situation in Mali requires that MINUSMA redouble its efforts and focus on the core tasks of its mandate in order to achieve its strategic priorities.

At a time when several countries in the region are engaged in electoral processes that reveal or accentuate certain weaknesses, I am pleased to commend the positive role played by the United Nations Office in West Africa (UNOWAS) and call on all partners to further coordinate their initiatives and other support to the Sahel region.

In conclusion, and as stated by the UN Secretary General in his latest report on the issue, "the international community has a moral obligation and shared responsibility to support the G-5 Sahel Member States in their commendable efforts to bring peace and sustainable development to the region".

Council members are also encouraged to be more pragmatic on this issue, which goes beyond the Sahel and calls for a comprehensive response. In sum, the primary mission of the Joint Force is to rid the Sahel of these forces of evil, which could otherwise extend their reach to other regions.

I thank you.

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