UN Report Shows West Africa Still Grappling With Social Issues

UNITED NATIONS, July 9 (BERNAMA-NNN-SABC) -- Despite having the highest economic growth rate on the continent, West African is struggling to meet growing expectations in the social sphere, a situation compounded by growing insecurity in some countries, a piracy problem in the Gulf of Guinea, transnational organized crime, terrorism and a spreading Ebola virus.

Presenting the Secretary-General's Report on the United Nations Office for West Africa to the UN Security Council here Tuesday, Special Representative Said Djinnit warned that as the region embarked on a new electoral cycle, existing fragilities could test democracy and stability, particularly in Africa's largest economy, Nigeria.

Five countries go to the polls next year -- Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Niger and Nigeria.

While the situation in the greater Sahel region has been described as alarming, the levels of violence in Nigeria continue to escalate, as Special Representative Said Djinnit explains.

"The level of violence against civilians in Nigeria continues to escalate. This has resulted in significant displacement in the North. It is disheartening to note that within the last two weeks, at least 18 attacks attributed to Boko Haram have been conducted, resulting in the tragic death of innocent civilians and displacement of people."

Djiniit, who also serves as the Secretary General's High Level Representative to Nigeria, told the Security Council that with growing insecurity in the northeast of the country, coupled with increasing political tensions and divisions in the lead up to the 2015 general elections, Nigeria was at a crossroads.

He called on the Security Council to continue to lend their critical support to efforts and initiatives aimed at preserving stability in the country.

"The present situation also underscores the paramount need for the Nigerian political class to forge a unified stand in confronting this persisting insecurity. During my forthcoming visit to Nigeria, as the High Level Representative of the Secretary-Gerneral, I will review with the UN Country Team the status of the implementation of the Integrated Support Package that was adopted by the UN."

The UN has begun implementing an integrated support package for Nigeria in response to the kidnapping of almost 300 girls by Boko Haram in April.

Djiniit said: "The threat to security has had the consequence of leading to a redeployment of resources to security priorities at the expense of development.

"Women and young people continue to be the most vulnerable groups, they are the most harshly affected by the inadequate responses provided by the states to many of the social challenges they face."

He also welcomed an African Union proposal, now under consideration, for the deployment of a task force to address the challenges posed by Boko Haram.


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