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Remarks by Ambassador Geng Shuang at Security Council VTC on UNOWAS

2020-07-09 09:59

Mr. President,

I thank Special Representative Chambas and Ms. Ibrahim for their briefings.

Since the last briefing, the overall situation in West Africa and the Sahel remains stable. Presidential and legislative elections were held successfully in Togo and Mali. Progress was achieved in the constitutional review in The Gambia. But security challenges remain grave. COVID-19 has added another layer of complexity to the regional situation, and undermined the region's economic and social development.

Over the past few months, with its good offices and mediation efforts, UNOWAS has played an important role in promoting peace and stability in the region. China appreciates the efforts and contributions made by UNOWAS, under the leadership of the Special Representative, especially during such a difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 continues to spread in the region. The priority for UNOWAS is to closely monitor the evolving pandemic situation, assess its impact, and help regional countries raise awareness, increase preparedness, strengthen health system, protect people's life and health, and mitigate the impact of the outbreak.

Mr. President,

In view of the SG's report and the situation on the ground, I would like to share a few more points:

First, we should encourage countries in the region to settle differences through dialogue.

Many countries in the region, including Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea and Niger, all have important elections later this year. We have seen tensions rising in some countries. The electoral preparations are also affected by the pandemic.

To create a favorable external environment, the international community needs to encourage relevant parties to enhance mutual trust, and resolve differences peacefully through dialogue and consultation. China supports continued good offices and mediation efforts by UNOWAS to help ensure peaceful, credible and transparent elections in those countries, on the basis of fully respecting their national ownership.

Second, we should help countries in the region eliminate the root causes of instability through development.

Underdevelopment is the root cause of many challenges and threats in the region. The international community needs to provide more support for the region's socioeconomic development, especially by increasing investment in agriculture, health, education, employment and infrastructure.

We encourage UNOWAS to strengthen coordination with other UN agencies and regional and sub-regional organizations, to align international and regional development initiatives with the national strategies of regional countries to get synergy results.

Third, we should lend more support to countries in the region to combat security challenges.

Terrorist attacks by Boko Haram, the Piracy of the Gulf of Guinea, and inter-communal violence seriously undermine the security and stability of the region. We call on all parties to conflict to heed the Secretary-General's appeal for global ceasefire.

China commends the important role played by the Multinational Joint Task Force and the G5 Sahel Joint Force. More support should be mobilized to build up the capacity of countries in the region, to more effectively combat terrorism and transnational organized crime. The international community should provide more humanitarian assistance to the region, and ensure its timely delivery to the most vulnerable groups.

Mr. President,

As a good friend and a good partner, China is a strong supporter for the peace and stability in the region. We are committed to help the region eliminate poverty, improve people's well-being and promote development. We give support to a number of peace and security programs in the region through China-UN Peace and Development Trust Fund. We provide 300 million RMB yuan in aid for the counter-terrorism operations in the Sahel and the G5 Joint Force.

Ever since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has been providing assistance to Africa. We have delivered medical supplies to more than 50 African countries, including countries in the region, and have sent medical teams to Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire. China will follow through on the commitments made by President Xi Jinping at the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on COVID-19 held last month. We will start, ahead of schedule, the construction of the Africa CDC headquarters this year. We will accelerate the construction of China-Africa Friendship Hospitals and pair up Chinese hospitals with 30 African hospitals, to help African countries improve capacities of disease prevention and control.

Finally, China will continue to support the work of Special Representative and UNOWAS. We will work with UNOWAS and the international community to help countries in the region combat COVID-19, maintain peace and stability, and achieve sustainable development.

Thank you, Mr President.

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