The global food crisis and climate change are worsening the humanitarian situation in the Sahel

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Thank you Mr President. Like others, we would like to congratulate you on your assumption of the presidency this month and to congratulate Albania on its excellent management of the Council in June.

We welcome the Special Representative back to the room and thank him for his very useful update. We also welcome the presence of the Chairperson of the Peacebuilding Commission and thank Ms. Magagi for her briefing.

Mr President, as we have heard, there have been positive developments since our last meeting. Peaceful elections in The Gambia and Senegal are a welcome example of progress in West African democracy.

We remain very concerned about the political situation in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso. Although recent progress on electoral calendars in Mali and Burkina Faso is encouraging. Sustained progress towards the organization of credible elections and the return to constitutional order are essential.

The UK encourages UNOWAS to continue to focus on democratic electoral processes across the region, in close coordination with ECOWAS and the AU. We also welcome today’s emphasis on strengthening the participation of women in these processes.

Mr President, it is also clear from today’s briefing that the security situation in the region remains fragile. Progress in the Gulf of Guinea is welcome, but the UK remains concerned about the deteriorating security situation in Nigeria, the central Sahel, the Lake Chad Basin and ongoing conflicts, including extremist groups. The presence in the region of groups of mercenaries including Wagner is a dangerous and destabilizing factor.

We encourage UNOWAS to focus on practical steps the United Nations can take, in a coordinated manner, to address the root causes of conflict, including through the implementation of the United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel, as the Special Representative said.

The UK, for its part, is committed to working with Nigeria to respond through our security and defense partnership, and to supporting long-term stability in Mali and across the Sahel, in particular thanks to our contribution to MINUSMA. Like others, I would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere condolences for the deadly attack on Egyptian peacekeepers last week.

Mr President, I also want to focus today on the humanitarian situation, given the worrying developments we have heard.

We are particularly concerned about the food security situation, especially where humanitarian access is restricted and where the effects of the global food crisis and climate change are worsening the situation.

The UK is committed to improving the humanitarian situation, including providing more than $200 million in development assistance across the Sahel between 2019 and 2021.

The UK calls on all actors to continue their cooperation with UNOWAS at national and regional levels to facilitate humanitarian access. We hope that the SRSG can use its good offices role to work with all parties to the conflict, and the entire United Nations system, to ensure safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian actors.

Finally, Mr. President, we are concerned about the difficult human rights situation described in the latest report of the Secretary-General. We urge UNOWAS to continue working with States to ensure accountability and better compliance with international human rights standards.

Thanks.

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