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NEW YORK, December 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's remarks to the Security Council briefing on peace and security in Africa, in New York today:

Je vous remercie très profondément, Président Araud, d'avoir organisé cette séance. Nous sommes réunis ici pour honorer notre engagement à l'égard des populations du Sahel à un moment où les besoins sont immenses.

Cette séance du Conseil de sécurité fait suite à la visite que j'ai effectuée au Mali, au Niger, au Burkina Faso et au Tchad le mois dernier avec la Présidente de la Commission de l'Union africaine, les Présidents de la Banque mondiale et de la Banque africaine de développement, et le Commissaire européen au développement.

Nous nous sommes rendus dans ces pays pour témoigner notre solidarité, souligner le lien existant entre la paix et le développement et prendre l'engagement de poursuivre notre appui.

Pendant la visite, la Banque mondiale et l'Union européenne se sont engagées à fournir plus de 8,2 milliards de dollars à la région. Nous aurons plus de précisions aujourd'hui concernant les modalités d'octroi de ces fonds.

Par ailleurs, nous entendrons un exposé de mon Envoyé spécial, M. Romano Prodi, sur les progrès que nous avons réalisés dans la mise en œuvre de la Stratégie intégrée des Nations Unies pour le Sahel.

Et M. Téte António, le Représentant de l'Union africaine, nous présentera le point de vue du continent sur tous ces éléments.

À chaque escale pendant la visite, j'ai eu des entretiens approfondis avec les dirigeants nationaux qui s'emploient à relever les défis et à trouver des solutions.

We took an important first step in Mali at the regional meeting. African ministers, as well as regional and international organizations and financial institutions, came together to improve coordination and address the Sahel's fragility. They welcomed the African Development Bank's establishment of an Action Fund, which will help jump-start underfunded projects and contribute to longer-term development. Going forward, the ministers will meet twice each year to calibrate responses to the Sahel's challenges.

I also had a very moving visit to Timbuktu. People there are struggling to recover from human rights abuses and upheaval. I was given an opportunity to view the cultural treasures that had been damaged in attacks. This was a terrible loss for Mali — and for our common global heritage — but with UNESCO's (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) help, we are moving to safeguard it. I condemn all attacks against places of worship and call for reconciliation and accountability.

We must continue to strengthen MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali). Mali has made progress toward re-establishing constitutional order. The first round of legislative elections was conducted in an orderly manner. But the political process between the Government and armed groups has been delayed. I remain concerned about the security situation in the north.

Across the region, terrorist acts, the trafficking of arms, drugs and people, as well as other transnational forms of organized crime, are threatening security. We must do more to address the food crises that plague the Sahel. We also have to improve conditions in migrants' communities of origin while also generating more legal opportunities for migrants to work abroad.

The Sahel's vast size and long, porous borders mean that such challenges can be addressed successfully only if the countries of the region work together. The United Nations will continue its efforts to promote security, good governance and resilience.

I came back from the visit with a clear sense that we need to do much more to fight poverty, empower women, provide employment opportunities for young people and ensure that all the people of the Sahel have what they need to build a better future.

I look forward to the views of Council members on how we can achieve this. And I count on all partners to live up to our promises so that this important region can break the cycle of poverty and insecurity and usher in an era of prosperity and stability for all.

Thank you Mr. President.