|Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the UN Security Council Briefing on G5 Sahel|
I thank Assistant Secretary-General Martha Pobee and Executive Secretary of the G5 Sahel Eric Tiare for their briefings. I listened carefully to the statement of Ms. Solange Bandiaky-Badji.
The current situation in the Sahel region is complex and severe, beset with multiple challenges in security and economy, among others. There were once again terrorist attacks in Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali recently, causing a large number of casualties, which is distressing. Recently, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made a trip to west Africa and the Sahel, emphasizing that the Sahel issue remains one of the main concerns and priorities of the UN. The international community should respond to the call of the Secretary-General, and increase its attention and support to the region.
First, strengthen unity and cooperation. The Sahel region faces multiple challenges, such as terrorism, food security, poverty reduction, development, and climate change, and is more severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical conflicts. No countries can tackle these challenges alone. Countries in the region should strengthen solidarity and cooperation with the support of the international community, and come up with joint responses. At present, cooperation in the Sahel region encounters new difficulties. The G5 Sahel Mechanism is affected. This is not in line with the interests of the member states, nor the common interests of the region. The most urgent task is to adopt a forward-looking attitude, and take rational and pragmatic measures, on the basis of fully considering each other’s situations and balancing the concerns of all parties. It is essential to remove obstacles to regional cooperation, restore the long-term momentum of regional cooperation, and inject new impetus in addressing common challenges with solidarity. We hope that Mali, Burkina Faso, and ECOWAS will continue their consultations, and reach an agreement on transitional arrangements as soon as possible. The international community should respect the sovereignty and ownership of regional countries, and create a favorable external environment for regional cooperation.
Second, scale up counter-terrorism efforts. Terrorist forces are rampant in the Sahel region, with frequent cross-border activities and continued expansion and spread to the coastal areas of the Gulf of Guinea. Counter-terrorism is a holistic battle. Only by consolidating every link in the counter-terrorism defense line, can we achieve the final victory. During the reporting period, the G5 Sahel Joint Force continued to carry out operations, and achieved certain results. It remained an important force in regional counter-terrorism efforts. Regarding the logistical and financial difficulties facing the Joint Force, MINUSMA should continue to improve relevant logistical support, major funders, such as the EU, should continue to increase financial assistance, and the UN should also explore more solutions. When countries outside the region adjust their military deployment, they must take the initiative to strengthen communication and coordination with countries in the region, to avoid creating a security vacuum. The UN is planning a joint strategic assessment with the AU, ECOWAS, and the Sahel. We hope the UN will strengthen communication with all stakeholders in this process, with a view to strengthening solidarity and cooperation of regional countries. On the basis of the existing regional cooperation mechanisms, the assessment should focus on the challenges faced by regional countries in logistics, funding, and capacity building, and put forward realistic solutions.
Third, adhere to the priority of development. Africa faces arduous tasks in achieving development. The current global food, energy and financial crises have worsened the situation in Africa, and the situation in the Sahel region is even more severe. At present, more than 10 million people are facing severe famine, and millions are displaced, which highlights the importance and urgency of tackling the issue of development. The international community must maintain its attention to and investment in the Sahel region. All UN agencies should perform their respective functions, and in combination of the actual situation on the ground, vigorously promote the implementation of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel. It is necessary to scale up investment in food security, poverty eradication, infrastructure, education, health care, vocational skill training, and other fields, truly devote resources and efforts to areas where the urgent needs of regional countries are, and focus on addressing the root causes. China will continue to stand with countries in the Sahel, speed up the implementation of the outcomes of FOCAC and the Global Development Initiative, and support the region in its economic recovery and sustainable development with practical actions.
Thank you, Mr. President.