Voicing grave concern at terrorist safe havens in Libya and the humanitarian crisis caused by Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria, the United Nations Security Council today appealed for greater international security cooperation and more humanitarian aid to bring stability to sub-Saharan Africa.
In a presidential statement issued two weeks after the top UN regional official warned it that the sub-Saharan Sahel region will become fertile ground for recruiting terrorists among its tens of millions of disadvantaged people, the 15-member body Council called for a dual policy of combatting terrorism and its havens while eliminating its root causes through aid and development.
“The Security Council is gravely concerned that Libya remains a safe haven for terrorist groups operating in the Sahel region, and expresses deep concern at the threat posed by the widespread availability of unsecured arms and ammunition and their proliferation, which undermines stability in Libya and the Sahel region,” it said of the war-torn North African country.
It called for international aid to provide Libya and its neighbours with the security assistance needed to combat Al-Qaida-linked terrorists, urged all Libyan stakeholders to swiftly form a government of national accord to end the chaos, and appealed to regional counties to coordinate their efforts to stop terrorists crossing borders and seeking safe havens in the Sahel.
Last month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Envoy for the Sahel, Hiroute Guebre Sellassie, warned the Council that up to 41 million youths under 25 years of age in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger alone face hopelessness and are at risk of radicalization and migration. She called for improved access to education and employment to avert the threat.
Today’ statement also urged the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the international community to address the root causes, warning that humanitarian aid for the Sahel continues to be underfunded.
“The Security Council calls on the international community and donors to fulfil all their pledges made towards boosting economic growth, eradicating poverty and supporting governance reforms, through projects that would support peace and security efforts,” it said, urging all UN entities along with Member States and regional organizations to fund such projects as a priority.
“The Security Council calls upon the Member States of the Sahel region, with the support of the international community, to initiate programmes aimed at creating opportunities that would engage the youth in productive activities to reverse the tide of radicalization and recruitment into terrorist groups,” it added, stressing the need for stepped up coordination to tackle migrant and human trafficking.
The statement voiced concern at the scale of the growing humanitarian crisis caused by the Nigerian Boko Haram, which has displaced over 2.5 million people including an estimated 1.4 million children and sent 200,000 refugees fleeing to Cameroon, Chad and Niger, and urged international donors to support the regional Multinational Joint Task force set up to combat Boko Haram.