Regional security and integration under threat in Central Africa

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Recurrent and often fatal clashes between pastoralists and farmers in several Central African countries continue to cause “serious concern”, threatening “regional security and integration”, a senior UN official warned the Security Council.

“Inter-communal tensions in eastern Chad between nomadic herders and sedentary farmers, as well as attacks on villages in the Central African Republic remind us of the urgency of addressing the issue of pastoralism and transhumance”, said François Louncény Fall, referring to the traditional practice of moving livestock from one grazing area to another on a seasonal basis, a persistent source of conflict in the region.

On a more positive note, the UN Special Representative and Head of the Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) was “pleased” the issue is “receiving increasing attention in Central Africa” and welcomed a draft regulation instrument on pastoralism and transhumance from a May workshop in Kinshasa.

He reminded Council the UN Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa (UNSAC) remains “the primary platform” where the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) discusses peace and security issues and recommends actions to address threats to regional stability.

Given the inter-regional dimension of the tensions, Fall said “UNOCA will continue to support ECCAS efforts” and work with the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel, “to promote co-operation and exchange of good practices between Central, East and West Africa on the issue”.

The UNOCA chief said UNSAC noted the positive impact of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s elections at the end of last year that “enabled the country to experience a peaceful transition of power”.

“They also welcomed signing of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic (CAR)” and expressed support for lifting the arms embargo. UNSAC took note of Cameroon efforts to find “a lasting solution to the crisis in the North-West and South-West regions and encouraged government to pursue dialogue”.

Since his last briefing, Fall said ECCAS “made noticeable progress” on its reform process, that should help transform it into “a more effective organisation for regional integration, conflict prevention and resolution, as well as peacebuilding”.

“UNOCA remains committed to enhance these capacities building on expertise already available,” he said.

The reform should provide the organisation with “a more adequate mandate” as well as tools and means to carry it out.