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Unified action needed in Central Africa to defuse regional tensions, Security Council told

Despite some positive developments, the overall situation in Central Africa still requires concerted action at all levels to address sociopolitical tensions, economic difficulties and abuses by armed groups, a United Nations envoy for the region said Wednesday.

“In many countries of the region, tensions remained high,” François Louncény Fall, Head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) and the Secretary General's Special Representative to the region, told the Security Council, stressing that the UN is facilitating the search for a peaceful resolution of regional conflicts.

Mr. Fall welcomed advancements in regional integration, particularly the free movement of people in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community zone. UNOCA also supports capacity building in mediation, early warning collaboration with civil society and gender mainstreaming for the secretariat of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Gabon face serious economic difficulties as well as political and social tensions, he said.

Cameroon is affected by Boko Haram, the crisis in the Central African Republic or the Anglophone separatist movement, he continued. He said he has encouraged genuine and inclusive dialogue, but warned that prevention efforts must be increased to ensure that current tensions will not deteriorate in the context of the 2018 elections.

In the Central African Republic, attacks and grave abuses committed by armed groups, including the recent murder of blue helmets of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission there (MINUSCA) and humanitarian workers, remain a great concern, he said.

It is urgent that the peace process be advanced through the implementation of the road map adopted by the African Union, he said.

As for Boko Haram, the insurgent group is still capable of perpetrating attacks and horrible abuse in Central Africa, he said, stressing that redoubled efforts by all partners are needed to address the threat.

International support is also crucial to implement the conclusions of the recent regional conference organized by the African Union and the Lake Chad Basin Commission.

Similarly, international support is needed for the African Union's Regional Cooperation Initiative for the Elimination of the Lord's Resistance Army, as that group continues abuses against local populations, following the withdrawal of Ugandan and United States forces from its zone of operation.

It is important for the AU and troop contributors to quickly agree on the reconfiguration of the regional task force and on an increase of support for the training of the Central African Armed Forces in order to meet the threat.

He said that UNOCA continues to focus on efforts to enhance the coherence and coordination of overall UN activities in Central Africa, including collaboration with resident coordinators and country teams to engage national authorities on sensitive political issues as well as on longer term efforts to formulate national and cross border peacebuilding plans, with the support of the Peacebuilding Fund.