Statement delivered by Ambassador Inigo Lambertini, Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the Security Council meeting on the “Briefing by the Security Council mission to the Lake Chad basin” —
Thank you Mr. President,
Allow me to start and convey my warm welcome to Madam Deputy Secretary-General. We have already worked very intensively with Amina Mohamed, both with the mission and with me personally during the organization of EXPO Milano 2015; we are ready to continue. Madam Deputy Secretary-General, I had a feeling, during our meeting in Nigeria, that your country already misses you but we will do all the best to keep you here, very strongly.
Mr. President, congratulations for your presidency: this is our first open meeting of your presidency, but you already started in a very successful way by organizing this visit. I would express my appreciation to you, to the French Ambassador and to the Senegal Ambassador for organizing this visit, and to the whole UN family and the Governments of the host Countries for their essential assistance at every stage of our mission.
We have been in favor of the idea of this visit from the start, since we knew it would offer an opportunity to deliver a strong message of support and commitment to the Countries of the region and to the international community.
And we have not been disappointed: both purposes were achieved.
What we are we bringing back from this visit? First of all, our direct observations of the magnitude of the crisis, in the field, in all its dimensions –humanitarian, social, and security – show it to be even more alarming than expected. I think the best photo is when we were in Maroua last week. Once a touristic destination on the border of the main National Park of Cameroon, today we were not even allowed to leave the airport. We were surrounded by military. This explains what we have met.
We saw the deep impact of the humanitarian crisis on the Region. The Oslo Conference demonstrated growing international attention to Lake Chad. Many States, including Italy, committed to supporting the Region. We must continue to stress the importance of timely and coordinated assistance to the region.
Turning to the issue of security, during our visit we observed the strong engagement of local Governments in the fight against Boko Haram and against terrorist activities in the Region, efforts that are shared by civil society. It is crucial for us to support these efforts and to promote the participation of civil society, in particular of women’s organizations, in mediation and in the fight against radicalization.
We continue to be concerned by the many trafficking networks operating in the region. There is no underestimating of the ties between Boko Haram and transnational organized crime. In particular, we must be resolute in tackling any instances of smuggling, especially human trafficking, connected to this phenomenon. I want to remember the lucid analysis made by the President of Nigeria and his Minister of Interior on the effects of this network on the crisis of the region.
We are convinced that this issue has to be addressed in a broader regional perspective that encompasses the Sahel, fostering the UN initiatives already in place, in particular the Integrated Strategy for the Sahel.
But it is not enough to improve the security situation alone. The region is suffering social and economic desertification. It is essential to accompany security measures with a long-term development plan to foster a sustainable living for the people of the area, in particular internally-displaced persons, and – once the security situation has stabilized – to prevent them from being exploited by traffickers and smugglers.
Mr. President, in closing, we need to acknowledge the root causes of instability in the region and how they impact the crisis. I would like to mention, in particular, the effects of climate change. Addressing the root causes of instability, we are convinced, is a key priority if we are to overcome the related security-humanitarian crisis and ensure the long-lasting development of the region. In this regard, we feel that the Region would benefit from the implementation of the 2030 Agenda by fostering sustainable development and sustaining peace. During our meeting last week, Mr. President, you used several times the expression ‘the neglected crisis’; at least the crisis is no more neglected by our Council.