Statement delivered by the Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, at the Security Council Meeting on Peace and Security in Africa —
thank you for organizing this extremely insightful briefing. Thank you USG O’Brien and ASG Zerihoun for the update.
Italy follows very closely the situation in North-Eastern Nigeria and in the Lake Chad Basin, where we are facing a complex crisis encompassing security and humanitarian factors.
From a security angle, despite some progress achieved, Boko Haram keeps representing a serious threat to peace and security for its capacity to reshuffle its strategy and hit hard even now that it seems to have weakened.
We fully support the ongoing efforts by the governments of the region in curbing the activities of Boko Haram and stand ready to support this endeavor both bilaterally and through the European Union.
Moreover, we are concerned by the numerous trafficking networks operating in the region. We cannot underestimate their ties with Boko Haram and transnational organized crimes activities. We should be resolute in tackling any instances of smuggling and especially human trafficking connected to this phenomenon.
In this regards, I would like to mention the UNSC Resolution 2195 (2014) which called for international action to prevent terrorists from benefiting from transnational organized crime, through securing borders and prosecuting illicit networks urging, Member States to enhance regional coordination on cross-border counteraction to terrorism and related crimes.
I believe that the role of regional and subregional organizations is essential in tackling this threats and the Council should encourage them to play an even more proactive role by developing a comprehensive regional strategy.
I hope that this very debate will give momentum to revitalize the proposal discussed during the last years about a joint ECOWAS – ECCAS summit to discuss the Boko Haram threat from a regional perspective
We fully support the idea of a Security Council Mission in the region as it will be an occasion to deliver a strong, united message of support and commitment.
Turning to the humanitarian aspect, we are extremely concerned by the current situation in Nigeria and in the Lake Chad Basin.
We condemn in the strongest terms the terrorist activities conducted by Boko Haram, and their patent violation of international humanitarian law and of the most basic human rights.
I wish to highlight a few points:
First, Boko Haram continues to use sexual and gender-based violence and rape as weapons of war. Not to mention the exploitation of women and minors as suicide bombers.
In particular, the targeting of women, girls and boys for sexual violence is systematic and integrally linked with the strategic objectives of the organization. Accordingly, efforts to prevent and address sexual violence should be strategically aligned with efforts to prevent violent extremism and terrorism.
We must tackle and put an end to this reported phenomenon without forgetting the social stigma hitting people once abducted by the terrorist group.
Second : we are particularly concerned by the rise in the number of IDPs, which now amount to 2.6 million in the whole region and reside mostly in host communities adding up to an area already over-stretched in terms of economic resources and social cohesion. The field mission recently conducted by UNHCR in the region has confirmed this critical situation.
We wish to draw the Council’s attention to the fact that the current instability and the effects of climate change in the Region also have a deep impact on movements of people and create an environment favorable for illicit activities such as smuggling and human trafficking, which we firmly oppose. Not to mention the risk of Boko Haram’s infiltration displaced persons and migrants flows to move into neighboring countries.
Thirdly, it is essential to address the root causes of the crisis.
It is important to increase the involvement of economic and development actors – such as the World Bank – and to focus our efforts on institution-building and infrastructure strengthening in the Region. In this regard, I encourage DPA to extend to the countries of the Region the initiative they are implementing with the PBC in Burkina Faso which is based on an innovative concept of sustaining peace and preventive diplomacy. Such an approach aims at ensuring the implementation of early development programs and has a potential to reduce the risk of radicalization.
Lastly, Italy stands ready to support the efforts of OCHA and of other international agencies in bringing relief to the people affected by this massive humanitarian crisis and to the government of Nigeria, that we encourage to continue on the current path of cooperation with agencies and NGOs on the ground.
We are contributing, both bilaterally and through UN agencies, in particular by funding projects aimed at strengthening the resilience of the local population and mitigating the risk of internal displacements and migration.
I thank you.