Wed, 06 Jul 2022

UNITED NATIONS, May 18 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese envoy on Wednesday called for prioritizing development in the Sahel region.

"Africa faces arduous tasks in achieving development. The current global food, energy and financial crises have worsened the situation in Africa, and the situation in the Sahel region is even more severe," Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, told the Security Council briefing on G5 Sahel, an institutional framework for coordination of regional cooperation in development policies and security matters in west Africa.

The Chinese UN ambassador said that at present, more than 10 million people are facing severe famine, and millions are displaced, which highlights the importance and urgency of tackling the issue of development.

Talking about the counter-terrorism, Zhang said that terrorist forces are rampant in the Sahel region, with frequent cross-border activities and continued expansion and spread to the coastal areas of the Gulf of Guinea.

"Counter-terrorism is a holistic battle. Only by consolidating every link in the counter-terrorism defense line, can we achieve the final victory," the envoy said.

He said that the United Nations is planning a joint strategic assessment with the African Union, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Sahel. "We hope the UN will strengthen communication with all stakeholders in this process, with a view to strengthening solidarity and cooperation of regional countries."

Speaking about unity and cooperation, Zhang said that the Sahel region faces multiple challenges, such as terrorism, food security, poverty reduction, development, and climate change, and is more severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical conflicts.

"No countries can tackle these challenges alone. Countries in the region should strengthen solidarity and cooperation with the support of the international community, and come up with joint responses," said the ambassador.

He underscored the fact that cooperation in the Sahel region encounters "new difficulties" and the G5 Sahel mechanism is affected.

"This is not in line with the interests of the member states, nor the common interests of the region. The most urgent task is to adopt a forward-looking attitude, and take rational and pragmatic measures, on the basis of fully considering each other's situations and balancing the concerns of all parties," the envoy said.

"It is essential to remove obstacles to regional cooperation, restore the long-term momentum of regional cooperation, and inject new impetus in addressing common challenges with solidarity," Zhang added.

"We hope that Mali, Burkina Faso, and ECOWAS will continue their consultations, and reach an agreement on transitional arrangements as soon as possible," he added.

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