Friday, March 09, 2012

West Africa: UN envoy for West Africa stresses cooperation to address regional threats

8 March 2012 – The United Nations envoy for West African today underlined the Organization’s determination to strengthen partnership with countries in the region to effectively combat threats to stability, including piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, drug trafficking and organized crime, as well as the food crisis and insecurity in the Sahel belt.

Said Djinnit, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA), said during a meeting in Abidjan with Côte d’Ivoire’s President, Alassane Ouattara, that the region faces challenges on two fronts.

“Its northern borders are affected by the Sahel crisis whose effects are keenly felt on Mali. Its southern borders, along the Atlantic coast, undergo the phenomenon of rampant piracy and organized crime, which ultimately threaten economic development of the entire sub-region.”

Mr. Djinnit and Mr. Ouattara, the current chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), also discussed the holding of a regional summit to develop a comprehensive strategy against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

Earlier in the week, Mr. Djinnit attended a high-level meeting of the UN country teams and peacekeeping missions in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia, during which the missions adopted a “roadmap” specifying how to enhance cooperation to improve security along their common border.