ECOWAS, UN to deepen cooperation in addressing humanitarian challenges
ECOWAS and the United Nations have agreed to deepen cooperation in addressing the myriad humanitarian challenges facing West Africa including the increasing numbers of internally displaced persons, refugees and victims of food crises.
The understanding was reached on Tuesday, 7th August 2012 during a meeting between visiting Mr. David Gressly, the UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for Sahel and the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador Kadire Desire Ouedraogo.
The President used the opportunity to reiterate the benefits of the ECOWAS humanitarian policy approved by Heads of State and Government as a mechanism for holistically addressing the humanitarian challenges in the region through the allocation of responsibilities to various stakeholders and ensuring that the mandate was discharged under the policy.
“We have a responsibility to protect citizens of the region who find themselves as refugees, internally displaced or disadvantaged,” the President told the UN official assuring him that the regional organization would live up to its responsibility to citizens and ensure the protection of human and other rights in the region.
He reaffirmed the value of the cooperation between the two organizations in addressing the region’s humanitarian challenges and assured that ECOWAS would work with UN humanitarian agencies in exploring additional areas of cooperation in providing succor to victims of various crises in the region.
On Mali, the President warned that the region would not tolerate the partitioning of the country and was therefore taking measures to ensure the restoration of the nation’s territorial integrity through a two-track approach of dialogue and planned deployment of the regional force MICEMA in the country.
Earlier, Mr. Gressly stressed the importance of reinforcing collaboration between the UN agency and ECOWAS for the benefit of vulnerable groups adding that some relief was already being provided for victims to mitigate their suffering.
Describing the humanitarian situation in the region as ‘catastrophic’, the UN official said his office was working with the Commission’s humanitarian affairs directorate to address the current crises in West Africa.