Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Peace and Security in Africa

Amy Tachco
Political Coordinator
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
March 22, 2018


Thank you very much, Mr. President. I would also like to thank Deputy Secretary-General Mohammed, Mr. Bila, and Ms. Nagarajan for their briefings today. One year after the Security Council’s mission to the region and its adoption of Resolution 2349, these presentations are an important reminder that much work remains to be done to address the continuing terrorist threat and escalating humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad Basin.

Mr. President, one year later, we can point to some progress in the humanitarian response and efforts to deliver help to those in the greatest need. But the terror of Boko Haram, and its offshoot ISIS-West Africa, continues to devastate communities, families, and lives throughout the region. Their brutality, hatred, and inhumanity will spread terror, prolong the humanitarian crisis and displace millions until they are destroyed.

We express our deep condolences to the victims of the horrific terrorist attacks in Nigeria’s northeast and across the Lake Chad region, including the attack and tragic kidnapping of over 100 schoolgirls in Dapchi and the abduction and killing of humanitarian aid workers in Rann. We are encouraged by the return of a significant number of the girls to Dapchi yesterday but are horrified to hear of those killed during their captivity. We call for the return of all those abducted across the region and accountability for the perpetrators.

As the United States has told the governments of the Lake Chad region many times, we are your partner in this fight and we will continue to support your efforts to defeat these terrorist groups.

We commend Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Benin for stepping up to counter this threat through the Multinational Joint Task Force. We thank Nigeria for the leadership role it has played in the response, and we urge all these nations to stay focused on this task even while they face other pressing security priorities.

Governments must also focus on a smooth transition between military forces and civilian protection forces to ensure populations are protected even after troops move on. Regional leaders must redouble efforts to secure territory to allow the displaced to return safely to their communities, restart their livelihoods, and rebuild their lives. The latest abductions in Dapchi and Rann show the need for robust protection to end the appeal of abductions and extortion and the cycle of rape, forced marriage, brainwashing, and suicide bombings.

Nigeria’s recently launched Demobilization, Disassociation, Reintegration, and Reconciliation strategy and the action plan for preventing and countering violent extremism are very positive steps, as are other similar regional efforts. The United States will continue supporting this critical work, and we encourage partners to do so as well.

Mr. President, as our briefers and Council colleagues have described here today, success will not depend on military effectiveness on the battlefield alone; it also requires improvements to the economy and governance off the battlefield.

The region cannot simply restore Nigeria’s northeast and the broader Lake Chad Basin to what they were before the destruction caused by Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa; they must build a better future there. Governments must work with civic leaders and a wide range of community leaders to create the social, economic, and political infrastructure to support a lasting peace.

That progress must include transparent and credible investigations of human rights violations and abuses, as well as mechanisms to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. Impunity only feeds terrorist recruitment.

Therefore, we reiterate the call in Resolution 2349 for all regional security forces to conduct operations in line with international human rights and humanitarian law and for governments to take appropriate action to secure justice and accountability. These efforts deepen people’s trust in their governments and strengthen security efforts.

The staggering size and toll of this region’s continuing humanitarian crisis requires a dynamic and comprehensive response that helps respond to urgent needs while looking ahead to the future. The response must lay the groundwork for durable solutions for the more than 10 million throughout the region needing humanitarian assistance, the 4.5 million facing severe food insecurity, and many still at risk of famine, and the two million displaced.

A successful response depends on access to the communities in need throughout the region, and we reiterate calls on regional governments to do all they can to help humanitarian partners secure that access. Regional governments should also do more to bolster grassroots support for the international humanitarian response by reinstituting legitimate governance in the region and reassuring the region’s people that they have a future in their home communities.

Mr. President, the United States is committed to supporting our Lake Chad partners in their efforts to defeat the terrorists, address the root causes of violent extremism, provide life-saving assistance to those in need, create a secure environment so the displaced can voluntarily and safely return home, and rebuild communities ravaged by conflict.

Our bilateral security assistance provides vital support to our Lake Chad Basin partners in the fight against Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa, as well as to help those who have been victims of these terrorist groups.

The United States is also the single largest humanitarian donor to the international humanitarian response. On March 6, the United States announced more than $128 million in additional humanitarian assistance for the Lake Chad region, bringing the total to over $655 million since 2017 and over $1 billion since 2015.

The United States is also helping regional partners rebuild devastated communities. To help establish civilian security the United States trains civilian law enforcement actors, provides personal protective equipment to police, and rebuilds police barracks and stations.

Throughout the region, when security conditions allow, we fund education, health, and agriculture in a holistic effort to kick-start local economies, help establish effective governance and service delivery, and respect for human rights and accountability for violations and abuses.

Mr. President, with our fellow Council members, we stand with the people and the partner governments of the Lake Chad Basin committed to this effort.

Thank you.