United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres told the UN Security Council that COVID crisis is feeding many of the drivers of conflict and instability in Africa.
“Violent extremist groups in Western and Central Africa and Mozambique, including those associated with Al-Qaeda and ISIL, have continued and even increased their heinous attacks on civilians, creating additional major challenges for societies and governments.
The recent attacks in Cabo Delgado and the increasing insecurity caused by the Allied Democratic Forces in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo are tragic reminders of this serious threat.
Since the start of the pandemic, my special representatives and envoys across the continent have stepped up their efforts to enhance conflict prevention and advance peace negotiations in line with the African Union Silencing the Guns Initiative.
Last month, for example, my Special Representative for Central Africa, François Louceny Fall, travelled to N’Djamena and met key Chadian and regional stakeholders to promote peaceful, inclusive and consensual processes for a return to constitutional order following the death of President Déby Itno.
In Libya, UNSMIL’s outreach through virtual meetings with women, young people and civic leaders was central to our support for the ongoing political dialogue”, he said.
The Secretary-General listed some of the fallouts of the pandemic in Africa.
Economic growth has slowed, remittances are drying up, and debt is mounting. Meanwhile, some governments have also restricted civic space, while hate speech, divisive rhetoric, and misinformation have risen along with caseloads.
“The severe impact of the pandemic on young people – especially in Africa, the youngest continent – is contributing to increased risks. Loss of opportunities for education, employment and income drive a sense of alienation, marginalization and mental health stress that can be exploited by criminals and extremists,” he warned.