At the outset, I would like to warmly welcome Mr. Annadif Khatir Mahamat Saleh to his first briefing at the Security Council as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), and thank him for his comprehensive briefing.
I also welcome Ms. Chantal Ayemou to this meeting.
1. There have been some positive developments in the political situation in West Africa and the Sahel since we last met in December 2020. The region has witnessed the formation of new governments and parliaments in several countries, including the formations of new governments or parliaments in several countries. These signs of reconciliation are of great encouragement.
However, in association with this process has still been election-related violence. Other corners of the region have also encoutered certain challenges that hinder their election processes. We, therefore, call on all stakeholders in these countries to continue dialogues and consultations so that consensus can replace differences on outstanding issues, including the transition in Mali.
We support ECOWAS, UNOWAS and the United Nations Team for their efforts in proactively engaging and working with related parties to maintain peace, security and stability in the region. We emphasize the need to increase the meaningful participation of women in this process.
2. We share the assessment of the Secretary-General about the security situation in the region. Many countries have faced tremendous challenges, including high levels of violence, rising terrorism, intercommunal conflicts, organized crimes, trafficking, the COVID-19 pandemic and threats from the sea as the SRSG mentioned. It is distressful to learn about the increase in casualties, especially among civilians and peacekeepers, due to violence and deadly terrorist attacks. We strongly condemn these acts and those who are responsible for the crimes must be brought to justice.
Against this backdrop, it is crucial for all countries in the region to redouble efforts in combating terrorism and violence. In this connection, we reiterate our call for adequate support and resources for the region, especially the G5 Sahel Joint Force to address the above-mentioned challenges. It is crucial to increase the protection and ensure the safety of peacekeepers and personnel of the United Nations Mission in the region.
3. We are gravely concerned about the dire humanitarian situation in the region, especially in parts of Central Sahel and Nigeria. According to OCHA, more than 29 million people are in need of assistance and protection in 2021; 5.3 million have been displaced; 6.3 million children are facing acute malnutrition. Moreover, more than 14 million are projected to face severe food insecurity during the upcoming lean season.
Under this circumstance, we reiterate our call for additional funding for humanitarian operations in West Africa and the Sahel. We also urge related parties to remove barriers to humanitarian access and facilitate the delivery of emergency assistance to populations in need. In addition, we stress the need to comply with international humanitarian law and ensure the legitimate rights and interests of the people in the region.
Last but not least, we reiterate our support for the Secretary-General's call on the ECOWAS Member States and international partners to support holistic and integrated approaches, including through the implementation of the Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel and its Support Plan for the Sahel. It is also important to integrate current and projected climate-related threats into all conflict prevention efforts.
I thank you, Mr. President./.