NEW YORK, 27th May, 2016 (WAM) — At a meeting in the United Nations Security Council on the situation in the Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa, senior UN officials stressed that climate change plays a direct role in the region’s security, development and stability by increasing drought and fuelling conflict.

Speaking via videoconference from Niger, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and Head of the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA), Mohamed Ibn Chambas, said that he had just met President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger as part of a tour of Sahelian countries on the frontline of humanity’s struggle against climate change.

In addition to climate change, the special representative cited the renewed insurgency in the Niger delta, terrorist activities in northern Mali, deadly conflicts over resources, as well as organized crime, trafficking and violent extremism as threats affecting the region.

Mr. Chambas emphasized that while the fight against terrorism in the region was beginning to yield tangible results, more efforts were needed to support the military campaign against Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin area.

Noting that the Lake Chad Basin region was home to up to 50 million people – a population expected to double by 2030 – Mr. Chambas also said the region directly provided livelihoods to about 2 million people and supplied nearly 13 million with food.

For its, part, the UN was committed, within the parameters of its mandate, to help the region address its challenges, the special representative stressed, highlighting that cooperation was needed in that regard. Although tackling climate change and insecurity was the primary responsibility of the region’s Governments, their budgets were already stretched, he said.

In addition, he noted that humanitarian needs continued to grow in the Sahel, with some 9.2 million people needing assistance. Only a small percentage of the $535 million requested for humanitarian assistance had been met, the special representative said.

WAM/Ahlam/bashir