China wishes to thank you, Mr. President, for having convened today's meeting. I also wish to thank Special Envoy Ms. Sellassie for her briefing.
The Sahel is a vast region with a large population and rich natural resources. In recent years, thanks to the ongoing efforts of the regional countries and the strong support of the international community, the overall situation in the Sahel region remains stable. Its economy continues to grow and there has been positive progress in the implementation of the United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel. China appreciates the active efforts of the United Nations, regional and subregional organizations in Africa, such as the African Union, and the relevant countries and bodies to improve the situation in the Sahel and to promote development in the region. China welcomes the good work of the newly appointed Special Envoy, Ms. Sellassie, for the implementation of the integrated strategy.
However, it must be acknowledged that the countries of the Sahel still face multifacted challenges, such as uneven development, growing ethnic tension, the spread of terrorism, the proliferation of illicit weapons and increased transnational organized crime. With regard to how to further improve the situation in the Sahel region and encourage the countries of the region to achieve lasting stability and development as soon as possible, I would like to underscore the following three points.
First, support for the efforts of the regional countries to maintain peace and stability is key to improving the security and humanitarian situation in the Sahel region. Currently, owing to an impasse in the political process and a turbulent security situation, some countries in the region face the threats of increasing terrorist activities, the proliferation of illicit weapons and the spread of transnational organized crime. Effectively dealing with such threats requires the unwavering efforts of the various countries to promote a political process for which they have ownership and to continuously strengthen capacity-building in the area of security. The international community should also strengthen coordination and cooperation so as to provide consistent and effective support to the countries in the region, promote mutual trust through dialogue and cooperation and maintain security and stability in the border areas through common efforts to combat the threats of terrorism and extremism.
Secondly, focusing on addressing the root causes of conflicts, such as poverty and underdevelopment, is the very foundation of lasting stability in the Sahel region. Building on the gradual strengthening, self-reliance and self-development of Sahelian countries, the international community and the international financial institutions should increase humanitarian assistance to the Sahel region, as well as technical support and investment to the countries in the region so as to help those countries to achieve social and economic development and to improve the livelihood of their people. China welcomes the World Bank, the African Development Bank and other financial institutions providing financial support to the Sahel region. We hope that the relevant pledges will be provided as soon as possible.
Thirdly, the international community should actively help the countries of the Sahel region strengthen capacity-building in the area of security through regional cooperation. In recent years, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States have actively promoted the development of a joint security mechanism and have committed themselves to dealing with African issues with an African approach, thus making good efforts to address the issues in the Sahel. The United Nations should fully utilize the role of the Sahel strategy as the coordination platform, coordinate the efforts of various parties and build synergy among various initiatives and strategies for the development of the region.
Finally, the Chinese Government attaches great importance to China-Africa relations and supports African countries in finding a development path appropriate to their national conditions. Through bilateral assistance and by participating in peacekeeping operations, China has supported the countries in the Sahel region in their efforts to achieve stability and development and has done its utmost to help African countries take leadership in addressing their issues, including the problems in the Sahel.
In future, China will continue to support African countries in strengthening capacity-building in the areas of peacekeeping and combating terrorism and piracy. We are ready to further strengthen cooperation with the United Nations and regional organizations so as to play our part in an early and comprehensive resolution of the issues facing the Sahel region.