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Widespread regional challenges pervasive in Central Africa

 Special Representative François Louncény Fall cited recent visits to Cameroon and the Republic of the Congo in updating ambassadors on the Secretary-General’s semi-annual report covering the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA). 

Western Cameroon in crosshairs 

Despite UNOCA’s efforts to promote conflict prevention measures, Mr. Fall acknowledged that armed elements in Cameroon’s north and southwest are now targeting civilians. 

And while expressing his appreciation for the commitment of Cameroon’s national authorities’ work towards the reconstruction and development of the region, he maintained that for it to succeed, “dialogue and the cessation of hostilities” must be the priority. 

Dividends of peace 

The UN envoy expressed particular concern over extremist fighters loyal to Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin, “with an increase in the number of attacks and kidnappings”. 

“Terrorist groups have continued to step up their attacks in Cameroon and Chad”, he informed, saying that “one cannot overemphasize the need to address the crisis…in a holistic manner”. 

He underscored the importance of the Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience of Boko Haram-Affected Areas, which despite the pandemic, has been finalized and pointed out that the hardest-hit eight territories are now developing their own plans of action. 

Mr. Fall appealed to the Council for resources to implement the strategy so that the populations there can enjoy the dividends of peace and also “strengthen their resilience in the face of radicalization and violent extremism”.  

Regional links 

Drawing parallels between the Lake Chad Basin and the Sahel, the UN envoy argued the need for joint monitoring and coordinated responses. 

He upheld the importance of establishing links between the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel and the regional strategy for the Lake Chad Basin to “avoid duplication, use resources more effectively and ensure that the two strategies are mutually reinforcing”. 

Maritime security 

Spotlighting “drug trafficking, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants”, Mr. Fall bemoaned maritime organized crime in the Gulf of Guinea. 

While commending individual measures and bilateral cooperation undertaken by regional States to address the situation, he underscored that “responses to security threats…will not be effective unless they are coordinated between Central Africa and western Africa”. 

Other pressing issues   

As voting preparations are underway in several Central African States, the regional envoy lauded successful elections in Cameroon and encouraged the country to adopt “political dialogue frameworks”. 

Turning to the COVID pandemic, Mr. Fall noted that while infections are largely under control in the region, there are a few instances of worrying rises that are stretching national capacity. 

In closing the Special Represented affirmed that conflicts between farmers and herders continue in Central Africa and echoed the Secretary-General’s appeal to governments and local communities to continue working together to address common challenges.

UN Africa News

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