Boko Haram has resulted in enormous humanitarian problems [fr]
Situation in the Lake Chad region - Speech by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 12 January 2017
I would like to thank Mr. Stephen O’Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, and Mr. Tayé Zerihoun, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, for their briefings on the situation in the Lake Chad region. I would particularly like to thank Ms. Fatima Yerima Askira of the Borno Women Development Initiative for her especially powerful testimony, which is a source of inspiration for all of us.
As we have seen in recent weeks, Boko Haram, while weakened, still has a real ability to conduct targeted, lethal attacks, particularly in Borno state, and, as we have just heard, the crisis it has provoked has resulted in enormous humanitarian problems. Women in particular have been targeted. This vulnerable population is not safe anywhere, and we are well aware of how difficult the situation in the camps for displaced persons is. Too often, the Lake Chad basin is not on the the major international media’s radar screen, despite the fact that it is one of the regions of the world most in need of us and our engagement. In that regard, we are actively encouraging the efforts of the countries of the region and the United Nations and working with them on three main fronts.
The first is military, with the goal of combating Boko Haram with all the determination that requires and weakening its ability to do harm. We know that the military effort led by the countries of the region, coordinated through a multinational hybrid force, is a particularly difficult one both militarily and financially. We are all united in the fight against terrorism, whatever form it takes and wherever it strikes. That is why France has expressed its solidarity through its active support for the operations against Boko Haram led by the countries of the region. In particular, we have been supplying useful intelligence to the countries involved as well as logistical support to Chad and the Niger and training for the Cameroonian forces. The current military operations have already shown their effectiveness. Many soldiers have already shed their blood in the regional offensive and we pay them respectful tribute.
The second priority is the humanitarian one, for, as we have said, the problems are huge. It is vital to ensure that the United Nations focuses all its efforts, in close collaboration with all its partners and the local authorities, on responding to the people’s needs. In that regard, we hope that the humanitarian hubs established by the United Nations in north-eastern Nigeria as base camps for the humanitarian workers will enable them to access the population more quickly and will be operational as soon as possible. We are especially grateful to Médecins Sans Frontières and all the humanitarian organizations that are working on the ground. I should recall here that international law applies to everyone and that all the parties are obliged to allow the United Nations and its partners access to the displaced. The countries involved in the crisis are on the front lines when it comes to facilitating humanitarian access, coordinating the various initiatives and ensuring that aid for the displaced is not diverted. France will do its full share in this collective effort. For 2017 alone we have already contributed €13.5 million in response to the humanitarian needs of the countries affected by Boko Haram.
The third priority is development in the regions where Boko Haram has established itself. Without that essential ingredient, this terrorist movement will continue to prosper thanks to the poverty and sense of exclusion that fuel it. That is why France has launched the Lake Chad Initiative with funding amounting to €35 million. This major initiative seeks to promote the economic recovery of the region and the creation of employment, especially for young people, who are, it should be remembered, the first target of Boko Haram.
In the context just referred to, the Lake Chad basin region must be at the heart of the Council’s priorities. As the Secretary-General has urged, let us combine all the military, humanitarian and development means at our disposal in order to make a difference on the ground. In that spirit, France strongly supports the plan for an upcoming visit by the Security Council to the region.