Geneva, 11 January 2023 (TDI): West Africa and the Sahel continue to face security challenges, yet it is a land of enormous opportunities, said the UN official to Security Council.

Giovanie Biha, the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Officer-in-Charge of the UN Office for the region – UNOWAS; The United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, during her briefing, called for support.

The continuation of support for strategies related to building resilience, promoting governance, and consolidating peace and security is vital.

The deteriorating situation of security is affecting millions in the region. The rebel groups, terrorist networks, and criminals have forced the shutting down of 10,000 schools and about 7,000 health centers.

While the non-state actors are consistently fighting to gain control over the resources. This resulted in an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the form of migration as the state is involved in undifferentiated operations against separatist groups and civilians.

She said, “the central Sahel continues to face multidimensional challenges, unprecedented levels of security and humanitarian challenges, and socio-political instability.

Also read: Children at risk of starvation in Central Sahel: Save the Children

They are further compounded by the impact of climate change, and food insecurity which was exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine.” Similarly, there is an increase in terrorist attacks in the countries along with the coast of the Gulf of Guinea.

To resolve these challenges, there is a need of promoting consensus and dialogue in the region. For example, Nigeria would experience elections this year so it should promote negotiations and provide level playing fields to political actors.

The office is closely working with West Africa’s economic bloc ECOWAS; the Economic Community of West African States and other entities to ensure conflict resolution in North Benin.

United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel

United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) also worked with youth and women communities for the promotion of conflict-sensitive practices for climate change adaptation.

“In Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire, peace caravans supported by the United Nations have concluded their journey through the respective countries, providing spaces for effective inter-communal dialogue along their way,” the UN official further said.

UNOWAS has shown commitment and support for a governmental transition during a coup in Burkina Faso and Guinea, in 2022. Moreover, encourages the participation of women in political decision-making in regional countries.

She added, “I take this opportunity to salute the enormous resilience of the population of the region, particularly the Sahelian people who faced many challenges of unprecedented magnitude and continue to fight every day for a better future”.