Security forces chase people during a protest, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. File picture: John Bompengo/AP

Johannesburg – Regional security topped the agenda during a joint summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) on peace, security, stability and the fight against terrorism and violent extremism this week.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ deputy spokesperson, Farhan Haq, on Thursday said the UN-backed summit, which took place on Monday in Lomé, Togo, was aimed at finding a practical approach to fighting terrorism.

“The Secretary-General welcomes the renewed commitment of ECCAS and ECOWAS member states to strengthen cooperation on key peace and security challenges and is particularly encouraged by the decision to sign a criminal cooperation agreement by the end of 2018 and to establish a ministerial committee to monitor implementation of the summit decisions,” said Haq.

Guterres also welcomed the decision of the heads of state and government from the two regions to hold consultations on the margins of the African Union summit in January, and to meet every two years to review the implementation of the decisions contained in the Lomé Declaration adopted at the Joint Summit.

In July, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), updated the Security Council on the “volatile security situation.”

Citing the spillover of the Malian crisis into Burkina Faso and Niger, and the widespread violence by non-state armed groups throughout the region, he noted that the complexity of recent attacks had had a devastating impact on local communities.

In mid-June, François Louncény Fall, the Special Representative and head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), told the council that the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism continued to affect all of Central Africa and divert government resources from development programmes to security operations.

“Boko Haram and the Lord’s Resistance Army have not stopped their deadly attacks on civilians, committing egregious human rights abuses and causing countless victims,” he said, referring to the main armed groups active in the sub-region.

African News Agency/ANA