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UNGA President raises alarm over shrinking Lake Chad

The President of the United Nations General Assembly, Ms María Espinosa, says the shrinking of Lake Chad is painful example of climate change on the environment.

Lake Chad
The climate variability impact on Lake Chad has also worsened the abundance and conservation status of biodiversity. Photo credit: UNEP

Espinosa made this known when she addressed State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday, May 7, 2019.

The UNGA President, who arrived Abuja on Monday on a three-day working visit to Nigeria, described the Lake Chad as “living examples of multi-dimensional crisis”.

She said: “Looking at the region, we also acknowledge and commend the very important role of Nigeria; both as Chair of ECOWAS and also as Chair of the Lake Chad Basin Commission.

“I think that the Lake Chad is one of the living examples of multi-dimensional crisis. It is on one hand a painful example of what climate change stands to the livelihoods of people and this of course combined with violent extremism.

“We know the damaging presence of Boko Haram and humanitarian emergencies because of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs.

“So, there is the need for us to respond at the level of cooperation and collaboration of the countries that are part of Lake Chad Basin, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroun and Niger, who are working hand in hand.’’

She noted that the UN had been working hard to improve the quality of lives of people.

On the humanitarian needs in the Lake Chad area, she said: “We are deploying all our capacities.

“Not only our office of humanitarian affairs but all our development apparatus of the UN, working in all the Chad Basin, supporting governments, countries and the leader to improve humanitarian aid according to people’s needs in the regions and micro regions.

“I have specific numbers on how much, specific coverage and people but everything we do is in strict and close coordination with the governments of the Lake Chad Basin.

“As you know, the UN has signed five-year UN cooperation framework with Nigeria whereby $4.5 million that will be channelled according to the Nigerian government’s priorities.’’

On UN Security Council reform, Espinosa observed that it was one of the most complex and contentious negotiation processes so far witnessed.

“I have to say very honestly that this is one of the most complex, divisive and contentious negotiation processes at the UN.

“As you know, the reform of the Security Council is under the responsibility of the UN General Assembly and I have appointed two co-Chairs to lead the works of the inter-governmental negotiations that have been taking place for 10 years now.

“The process of reforms has started 25 years ago and the mandate to negotiate the reform came 10 years ago when I was the ambassador of Ecuador at the UN.

“And at the time I thought we had a resolution to start the negotiations and with a great naivety, I thought this is going to be a process that will perhaps be for two or three years.

“Ten years later, I have to say that there is no consensus; there are very different views and positions regarding the reform process.

Espinosa maintained that the UN needed consensus to advance reforms.

“This is one of the issues where my work as the President is to lead to make sure that we agree on the fundamentals to ensure that the process is inclusive and transparent,’’ she said.

According to the UNGA president, the outcome of the reform is going to depend very much on the political will of member states.

She added: “The African position is well known and there are also different groups that also have different positions, we are trying to bring them together and find a common denominator.

“And the common denominator is that the Security Council has to deliver more and better because they have the main responsibility to deliver on peace and security agenda of the organisation.’’

By Ismaila Chafe

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