Opening Remarks by H.E. Mr. KIMURA Tetsuya, Ambassador of Japan to the United Nations, at the Side Event on the Margins of the Ministerial Roundtable on Central Sahel, Regenerating Central Sahel: Putting the Nexus to Action
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His Excellency, Ambassador Holmboe of the Embassy of Denmark in Mali,
Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa,
Distinguished friends and partners from Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger and beyond,
Good afternoon and good morning, wherever you might be. It is a great pleasure and an honour to welcome you to this side event. This is an important and timely event for the Central Sahel and the international community.
As one of the fastest growing crises in the world, the Central Sahel region has been struggling with complex and multi-dimensional human security challenges for nearly a decade. The number of internally displaced people has doubled, rising by 1.4 million people in less than two years. Millions of people are at risk of violence by a range of armed groups exploiting security vacuums across the Sahel and neighbouring countries.
And now, the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are amplifying the health, economic and societal vulnerabilities of the Central Sahel region, already burdened by chronic poverty, the adverse effects of climate change, and food insecurity.
Dear friends and partners,
Over the last several years, the Central Sahel countries have been forced to increase their security expenditures due to a surge in terrorist’s attacks. Consequently, development budgets and spending on education and health have been largely restricted in Mali and Niger, and reduced in Burkina Faso. With limited fiscal space, the COVID-19 pandemic is further pushing the people’s livelihoods to the brink.
Ahead of the presidential and general elections in Burkina Faso and Niger, we are standing at a tipping point.
To prevent a new spiral of instability, we must act together now.
In this context, Japan made a contribution of 4.8 million US dollars in multilateral funding to Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad to support refugees and IDPs, and host communities last August. Further, we announced bilateral funding of 5.5 million US dollars to Burkina Faso last Friday and 4.5 million US dollars to Niger last August respectively for life-saving food assistance and the response to the COVID-19. In addition, we also provided emergency relief supplies to Nigerien people affected by the flooding.
We commend progress on peacebuilding initiatives and coordination efforts by our partners and the G5 Sahel counties, such as the Sahel Alliance, the Partnership for Security and Stability in the Sahel (P3S), and the Coalition for Sahel.
Together, we must address the root causes of instability, and regenerate the humanitarian, development-peace-security nexus into actions. To this end, I would like to highlight the following three priorities of Japan.
Firstly, we underscore the importance of strengthening institutions’ capabilities and governance, including judicial, administrative and legislative systems. In this regard, Japan announced the New Approach for Peace and Stability in Africa or “NAPSA” during the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) last year. Deeply resonated with the principles of the human security, NAPSA places human resources development and institution building, alongside with support to African-led, locally-owned conflict resolution and peace building mechanisms at the heart of its approach.
Secondly, we call for more coordinated and holistic approaches to the humanitarian-development-peace-security nexus. The proliferation of the Sahel support frameworks and strategies by various UN agencies and financial institutions is especially concerning. We are concerned that fragmentation may complicate the coordination and increase the competitions among actors. This would impose a burden on the overstretched local resources. We strongly hope that today’s meeting unites our recommitment to effective, concerted and coherent actions to address the security and development challenges that the Central Sahel region faces.
Thirdly, the Central Sahel region needs a new impetus to go beyond “business as usual” and towards “building back better”. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into focus how interconnected the global community is. We should use this opportunity as a catalyst for reshaping our approach to the Central Sahel towards more inclusive and sustainable actions, including access to digital technologies and innovation and more strategic engagement with the private sector.
Dear friends and partners,
In closing, let me reiterate Japan’s unwavering support to the countries of the Central Sahel by contributing to peace and stability in this area through the TICAD process. Together with local, national and regional partners, the private sector, civil society and all development partners, we will continue to work towards realizing the human security of each individual. We believe, together, we can transform our hopes for a prosperous and peaceful Sahel into reality.
Last but not least, I thank again to Denmark and to UNDP colleagues for their initiatives and support to today’s event.
I thank you.