Head of UNDP Africa at Regional Consultation on Peace, Security and DevelopmentApr 20, 2015
Opening Speech of the Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa Abdoulaye Mar Dieye
UNDP Regional Consultation on Peace, Security and Development
for the Central Africa Region
Yaoundé, 19 - 20 April 2015
H.E. Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo (Minister of External Relations)
Distinguished colleagues and participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the UNDP Regional Consultation on Peace, Security and Development for the Central Africa Region. I would like to extend on behalf of the UNDP Administrator, Ms. Helen Clark, a special thank you to the Government of the Republic of Cameroon for allowing us to hold this important Regional Consultation here in Yaoundé.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We gather these two days among senior UN representatives, development partners, practitioners and experts from Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Congo, DRC, Niger and Nigeria to engage in consultations on the CAR and Boko Haram crises, the combination of which is reverberating throughout the Central Africa region, severely affecting the lives of its people. The Regional Consultation will enable us to discuss a UNDP regional framework to assist the Central Africa region in addressing the two crises that are posing a major threat to stability and development.
This consultation is the outcome of a side discussion held during a UNDP Global Management Meeting, which took place last year at which UN Resident Coordinators and UNDP Resident Representatives of countries bordering CAR expressed concerns over the impact and threat posed by the CAR crisis on stability and development in the countries they represent. They expressed the urgency to deepen our analysis on regional dynamics, reinforce UN efforts and coordination with other actors and develop programmatic interventions to respond to the challenges in the Central African region.
As you know, the ongoing crisis in CAR, and now the armed insurgency of Boko Haram, have developed into two of the most violent and complex regionally-based crises in the Central Africa region - a region that was gradually recovering from violent and lengthy post-independence wars. The devastation and human costs are staggering, with hundreds of thousands of women and men killed or injured, tens of thousands missing, and over a million who have been displaced or become refugees in neighbouring countries. The massive refugee influx is posing a serious burden on resource-strained host communities, putting pressure on social services and food security, and threatening social cohesion.
In CAR, the Brazzaville peace talks produced a ceasefire framework. Diplomatic efforts and the deployment of a UN-led peacekeeping force in CAR are helping. However, the security and peacekeeping agreements currently in place are constantly challenged and overridden. During my visit to CAR in February, I could see that the security situation remains fragile and the immediate future is bleak for the women and men in CAR where there are now over 430,000 IDPs. CAR shares a 5,000 kilometer border with Cameroon, Chad, Congo, DRC, South Sudan and Sudan and the insecurity is posing a direct threat to stability for its neighbours. The conflict has triggered a major influx of over 450,000 Central African refugees into Cameroon, Chad, Congo and DRC.
Meanwhile, Boko Haram is increasing its activities beyond the borders of Nigeria into the Lake Chad Basin countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger where it has launched attacks. Since 2009, when the Boko Haram insurgency resorted to wide-scale violence, more than 15,000 people have been killed. The insurgents are using children as human shields and suicide bombers, forcefully recruiting members, abducting women and girls, killing indiscriminately, destroying property and burning villages and farm lands. Boko Haram has become a major threat to peace and development efforts in the sub-region. The militant group has created over 184,000 refugees in Cameroon, Chad and in Niger. Given the combination of local poverty and the influx of refugees and IDPs, villages and refugee camps are becoming breeding grounds for further violence and radicalization.
The Central African region is the most militarized region of the continent with large numbers of former combatants, mercenaries, armed groups and arms of all types circulating across borders. The risk of destabilization and threats to development have reached a critical point. The crises are also having a severe economic impact affecting business activities which have come to a halt due to the insecurity. Both the CAR and Boko Haram crises are anchored in a fragile and volatile regional context where each country already faces its own challenges. The two crises are at the heart of an already complex region with multifaceted linkages sustained through a range of interconnected political, socio-economic and cultural factors. Instability can easily spill over national boundaries with the frequent interactions between armed groups and criminal cartels. To counter the risks of destabilization, countries in the region have diverted considerable resources to strengthen military and security infrastructures at the expense of development investments.
Distinguished colleagues and participants,
The stakes are enormous and important for the entire region. The potential of both crises to escalate further and spread into surrounding countries is high. Therefore, we are here to lay the groundwork to develop a regionally-focused conflict analysis and strategy for sustainable peace and development, which will guide the respective UNDP Country Offices in their programming to address the crises affecting the sub-region.
We must also have a holistic approach given the complexity of situation we are in. Our analyses should be broad and should include multiple and mutually reinforcing perspectives, including the political, security, religious, humanitarian and development perspectives.
I know you are all eager to start the consultation and as such I will not detain you any longer. I would however, like to reiterate our sincere thanks to the Government of Cameroon and to all of you for participating in UNDP’s Regional Consultation.
I look forward to productive discussions and a fruitful outcome and hope we have a successful meeting.