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Secretary-General's remarks to the Security Council on the Sahel, New York, 10 December 2012


I thank Mr. El Otmani for organizing this important open debate on the situation in Sahel.

Last week this Council heard the presentation of my report on Mali pursuant to resolution 2071.  I know you are currently considering a draft resolution regarding Mali.

But as acute as the problems there are, we cannot lose sight of the context in which Mali is but a part:  a sustained, systemic crisis across the entire Sahel region.

What happens in Mali can affect the entire region.  Likewise, we cannot expect to address effectively the issues in Mali unless we confront the challenges affecting the broader region.

I am grateful for the Moroccan Presidency for giving us this opportunity to discuss this bigger picture.

The warning lights for the Sahel region continue to flash.

Political turmoil, terrorist activity, drug trafficking and arms smuggling are spilling over borders and threatening peace and security.

Extreme climatic conditions and fragile economies only add to this toxic brew of vulnerability.

This year alone, an estimated 18.7 million people have been affected by food insecurity.

Over one million children under the age of five are at risk of acute malnutrition.

The governments and people of the Sahel region need our full support.

The United Nations has mobilized over $1 billion to support the countries of the region respond to the immediate needs of affected populations.

The recent rainfall promises a better harvest season, which should help ease food insecurity.  However, much more needs to be done.

We must strengthen resilience across the region.

We know that building resilient societies and institutions yields a big return.  It increases the impact and cost-effectiveness of humanitarian and development assistance.

Doing it right will require coordinating United Nations system-wide efforts and linking existing national initiatives to region-wide approaches.

Security Council resolution 2056 recognized the need for an integrated strategy addressing all dimensions of the crisis.

We presented a framework during a High-Level Meeting in September.

I also appointed Mr. Romano Prodi as my Special Envoy for the Sahel and will report to you more in detail.

He is focusing on four key issues: security; governance; humanitarian requirements; and development.

Let me point to just one area in the field of development that could make a difference.  Earlier this year, I launched our Sustainable Energy for All initiative.
With the right investments and support, the Sahel is ideally situated to be a global showcase for solar energy.

Mr. Prodi is here to provide an update on our overall efforts and his thoughts on the way forward.

For my part, I call on the Members of the Council and the wider international community to continue to support our efforts to develop the strategy.
We simply must not relent until peace and stability have been restored to the region.

Thank you.

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