The fight against Boko Haram is far from over [fr]
Situation in the Lake Chad Basin region - Statement by Mr. Alexis Lamek, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 27 July 2016
I too thank Stephen O’Brien and Jeff Feltman for their presentations on this issue, which is so important to us all. Mr. O’Brien’s accounts of the situation in the Lake Chad region in the areas affected by Boko Haram are appalling. Vulnerable populations, including children, young girls and women in particular, are the target of heinous acts. In addition, we remain extremely concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in those countries. We need to address the plight of the people by making every effort to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches them. The needs are enormous, as working conditions for humanitarian actors remain particularly difficult and Boko Haram is a long way from being defeated, despite the progress achieved. I take this opportunity to salute the courage and commitment of humanitarian actors working under these conditions.
The humanitarian consequences of the actions of Boko Haram, recalled earlier by Stephen O’Brien, are considerable. However, the figures are alarming, since the threat affects nearly 20 million people. There are three times more displaced people today than there were two years ago. It is the fastest growing displacement crisis in Africa. People affected by the crisis require urgent assistance in the form of food, water, shelter, health care, protection and education. Stephen O’Brien told us earlier that 5 million people are in a situation of food insecurity. In Borno state alone, nearly half a million people are deemed to be at the emergency stage — that is to say, very close to starvation. According to UNICEF, 50,000 children are likely to die of malnutrition if they do not receive treatment. We have, of course, the duty to assist them, but this also means that Boko Haram must be fought with the utmost firmness. The countries of the Lake Chad Basin have taken the initiative to unite their efforts in the framework of a joint multinational force, and we welcome this approach. We support this effort both militarily and financially. France actively supports the operations against Boko Haram carried out by countries in the region. We bring intelligence to the benefit of the countries involved, in addition to logistical support to Chad and Niger by providing equipment and training to the Cameroonian forces. We are all allies in the fight against terrorists and such criminals, whatever form terrorism takes and wherever it occurs.
The ongoing military operations against Boko Haram have already proved their effectiveness. Today, Boko Haram no longer controls territory and has retreated into its safe havens. These important achievements owe a great deal to the work of military forces from Chad and Nigeria. Many soldiers of these armies have already paid the price in blood in the regional offensive, and France respectfully pays tribute to them. The fight against Boko Haram is far from over. The offensive campaign waged by the countries of the region will continue, and it is our duty to support it. It is equally essential that the fight against Boko Haram be complemented forthwith by development policies in the affected regions. Without them, this criminal movement will continue to thrive on poverty and the feeling of exclusion that feeds it. France too is involved in that effort; the President of the Republic launched a Lake Chad initiative, which has been implemented by the French Development Agency at the regional level. In closing, I recall that international humanitarian law applies to all parties. The United Nations and its partners should have access to all persons in need, including displaced persons. We call for immediate, safe and unconditional access to populations in need.