Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet
Acting Deputy Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
June 12, 2020
Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you, Special Representative Fall, for your continued efforts to bring lasting peace and stability to the Central African region. We very much appreciate your consistent and frank communication with the Security Council.
But before I continue with my comments today, I would also like to extend the United States’ condolences to the people of Burundi on the untimely passing of President Pierre Nkurunziza. This disturbing news comes as the president was poised to step down at the age of 55 to allow the peaceful transition of presidential power in his country. During the seven-day mourning period, we hope the people of Burundi know that they are in our thoughts and prayers.
Special Representative Fall, the United States is encouraged to hear of improving and deepening coordination among Central African states on issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic response, combatting cross-border armed groups, and ECCAS reform.
At the same time, we are especially concerned about the impact of COVID-19 in Central Africa. The effects of the crisis on the economies of the region – most notably, those dependent upon oil revenues to support growth – underscores the region’s vulnerability to global shocks.
The United States is committed to supporting COVID-19 response efforts in the subregion, and we share your concern regarding the ability of national health systems to prevent the spread – especially in countries already experiencing humanitarian crises.
To that end, we have committed more than $1 billion for emergency health, humanitarian, economic, and development assistance specifically aimed at helping governments, international organizations, and NGOs fight the pandemic. Included within this amount is approximately $100 million exclusively for Central African countries.
Today, the United States would also like to direct the Council’s attention to the situation in Cameroon, where UNHCR reports there are nearly 680,000 people displaced in the Northwest and Southwest regions of the country due to the conflict there. We are encouraged to learn that some armed groups in Cameroon have responded to the Secretary-General’s call for a ceasefire.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic will only worsen the country’s deeply concerning humanitarian crisis, and we urge full humanitarian access be provided to public health responders.
We are also deeply concerned about the death of journalist Samuel Wazizi who was held for over 300 days in military detention. It is important that there be an independent investigation into his death – and that the results be made public.
Looking forward, SRSG Fall, we welcome your reporting on the electoral developments that will play out during the remainder of 2020 and into 2021. As we all know, elections can have an outsized impact on security, and so we appreciate your efforts to relay these developments in a timely and comprehensive manner.
Thank you very much.