Remarks on a UNSC Briefing on UNOCA (UN Regional Office for Central Africa)

Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet
Acting Deputy Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 6, 2019


I would like to join other colleagues, Special Representative Fall, in thanking you for your briefing today We commend your efforts to bring prosperity and security to Central Africa, and the United States is grateful for your work in Cameroon to facilitate a peaceful resolution to the crisis in the Anglophone Northwest and Southwest Regions. And Sasha we thank you for your candid assessment and concrete recommendations to address the challenges in the region.

As the Council seeks to highlight the most pressing concerns to international peace and security, we must clearly state that we are increasingly concerned by rapidly worsening humanitarian and human rights situations in Cameroon. Credible reports detail persistent human-rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary and unlawful detention, and torture, all conducted with impunity.

What started as a political and human rights crisis in the region has become a humanitarian situation requiring immediate attention. Parties to the conflict limit humanitarian access, and a worsening security situation has reportedly left as much as 65 percent of the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon out of bounds to aid workers.

Since 2016, when the protests in Cameroon started, nearly 3,000 people have died as a result of the ensuing violence, including 300 defense and security personnel. The conflict has created more than 500,000 IDPs and nearly 50,000 refugees.

On November 5th, UNICEF reported that around 1.9 million people, most of them children, are estimated to need assistance. This is an increase of 80 percent compared to last year, and an almost 15-fold increase since 2017.

We call on separatist groups and the Government of Cameroon to ensure humanitarian access to these areas to deliver life-saving assistance to those who now find themselves in need. We express our condolences to the family of a local aid worker, who was kidnapped and executed by unknown armed men November 30th during the official conduct of his duties. We also call on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and international human-rights law, as applicable, as well as the protections they provide.

The situation in Cameroon warrants immediate action from all parties, including the African Union and regional heads of state. As this month is about doing and not just talking, I want to briefly list a few helpful steps that could be taken to restore a measure of stability.

We urge UNOCA and our partners to take a more assertive role in resolving Cameroon’s conflict and to continue to urge both the Government of Cameroon and separatist groups to enter into open-ended dialogue without pre-conditions, relinquishing their focus on a military solution.

We also fully support the Swiss-led mediation process between the Government of Cameroon and the separatists, and we urge both sides to take concrete actions to move the initiative forward.

SRSG Fall, the United States also appreciates your work to build regional support for the full implementation of the February 6 peace agreement in the Central African Republic. The United States supports this agreement and believes it to be the best pathway to lasting peace, security, and stability in CAR.

In a spirit of reconciliation, we urge UNOCA to continue working in coordination with MINUSCA, the African Union, and neighboring countries to rally regional political support for the timely and effective implementation of this agreement.

SRSG Fall, we would like to again thank you for all the hard work you do in UNOCA. Over the coming year, we look forward to supporting your promotion of peaceful electoral processes, as well as your cooperation with regional and sub-regional organizations so as to bring peace and prosperity to Central Africa.

Thank you.