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West Africa Faces Challenges Consolidating Peace

Despite progress, West Africa faces challenges in consolidating peace - Ban

3 July 2008 - Although West Africa has made strides towards shoring up peace, the region must still overcome such obstacles as youth unemployment, rapid urbanization and irregular migration, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a new report made public today.

"Significant progress has been made in West Africa in the consolidation of peace and democratic governance," Mr. Ban wrote, highlighting the peaceful elections that have been organized and increased support for peacebuilding efforts.

However, he noted that the region faces "many challenges," including social and economic crises, trafficking in drugs and people, and insecurity in the Sahelian band.

For long-term stabilization to take hold, the UN and the international community must support peacebuilding in West African nations, many of which are fragile and susceptible to renewed fighting, he stated. "A greater role for a coherent and integrated United Nations is being sought across the subregion for maximized results and greater impact in addressing the many challenges at hand."

To prevent West African nations from sliding back into war, the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) must boost its cooperation with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other groups to augment early warning and other conflict-prevention systems.

"Cross-border threats to peace and stability in the subregion will require renewed awareness-raising efforts," the Secretary-General said.

Last December, the Security Council extended the mandate of UNOWA - currently headed by Said Djinnit of Algeria - until 21 December 2010.

ENDS

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