Mr. President,

I would like to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Central Africa and the President of the Commission of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) for their statements.

Switzerland reiterates its full support for the Special Representative and UNOCA in their efforts to consolidate peace in Central Africa and prevent future conflicts. Prevention, which is part of the mandate of this Council, has an important place in the Secretary-General's New Agenda for Peace. In this respect, we welcome the Office's mediation work with all parties, in coordination with regional mechanisms.

We underline the good collaboration between UNOCA and the Office for West Africa and Sahel. By pooling their efforts, the two offices are amplifying their impact and helping countries to meet common challenges. We call on the members of this Council to support the Special Representative in the implementation of his mandate by adopting a presidential statement as soon as possible.

Allow me to highlight three points:

Firstly, inclusive and transparent political processes are necessary for lasting peace in Central Africa. The current transition in Chad represents a unique opportunity to strengthen democratic governance and respect for human rights. Switzerland takes note of the holding of presidential elections and encourages the authorities to complete the transition by organising legislative elections. To this end, all Chadians, including the political opposition and politico-military movements, must be involved. In Gabon too, it is crucial that human rights are taken into account in the national political dialogue. This must include the opposition and civil society. Switzerland welcomes the Special Representative's collaboration with Gabonese parliamentarians to promote the participation of women in political life during the transition and beyond.  We welcome the progress made in extending the authority of the State in the Central African Republic, supported by MINUSCA. The forthcoming inclusive local elections will be a decisive step to consolidate this progress.

Secondly, the security and humanitarian situation needs to be addressed on a regional basis. The activities of armed groups between Chad, Sudan and CAR are forcing people to move and are destabilising the region. The conflict in Sudan is having a massive impact on neighbouring countries and requires a regional response. We welcome the solidarity shown by the countries of the region and their populations in welcoming refugees, and encourage all countries to contribute to the Regional Refugee Response Plan. In Cameroon, the persistent attacks in the north-west and south-west are also of great concern to us. As mentioned in the report, several schools, which I would reiterate are protected under international humanitarian law, have been targeted. These atrocities must not go unanswered.

Thirdly, our actions must take account of the fact that climate change is exacerbating security threats in Central Africa. Climate change is contributing to the redrawing of transhumance corridors and leading to an intensification of conflicts between farmers and herders. In Cameroon, for example, the impact of climate change is palpable. Whether they make their living from fishing or farming, thousands of people are being forced to move to the north of the country, where local conflicts over water are raging. This illustrates the need to invest in the prevention of climate-related conflicts in order to achieve long-term stability in the region. We welcome the collaboration of ECCAS, its member states and UNOCA in adopting a regional protocol on transhumance. Switzerland is already collaborating with the States of the sub-region and is ready to deepen discussions on this subject.

Mr. President, the Secretary General's report once again demonstrates the important role played by UNOCA in meeting the challenges in the region. In view of the forthcoming discussions on the mandate of the regional office, we reaffirm our full support for the office’s strategic priorities and for a further three-year extension.

Thank you

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