UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova participated on 26 September in the High-Level Event on "Curbing the threat of Boko Haram and building stability in affected countries: A long-term strategy to build community resilience, particularly of women, adolescent girls and young people", convened by the United Nations Population Fund, with Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin countries.
The Prime Minister of Benin and Ministers from Chad, Cameroon and Niger all drew attention to the escalating impact of the crisis on access to health, education, food, water and urged for a collective response. This response should act on the root causes of violence by empowering youth, ensuring access to education, skills and jobs, and empowering women and girls to participate in peace building.
In a message read by the Nigeria's Ambassador to the United Nations, President Buhari of Nigeria emphasized that addressing violent extremism required a multifaceted approach and concerted actions.
The Director-General underlined the importance of recognizing the link between security, development and climate change, urging a strong decision reflecting this at the COP21 this December.
She also called for increased focus on refugees across the region, raising concern over a 'banalisation' of their situation. 'A change in perspective is required, she said. "Education is a security imperative and must be an integral part of the humanitarian response and the response to violent extremism." She drew attention to increasing global awareness, reflected also in the Safe Schools declaration adopted in May 20015 by 49 countries.
Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown urged a global response, putting emphasis on safe schools, the inextricable links between health and education, and the need to mobilize more international resources to ensure that all children go to school.
Niger’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ms Boulama Kane affirmed that there could be no security without development and no development without security. The Minister of Planning and International Cooperation of Chad, Ms Mariam Mahamat Nour, said that the root causes of violence - lack of opportunity and ignorance - had to be addressed by building resilience and helping communities cope with economic challenges and the impact of climate change. The Minister of External Relations of Cameroon Mr Moukoko Mbonjo also stressed that youth, education and employment should be top priority in the response.
Other speakers included the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in conflict Ms Zainab Bangura, the Special Envoy for the Sahel Mr Guebre Sellassie, the principals of WFP and UNFPA and senior representatives from UNICEF, ILO and OCHA.
Over 2.1 million people are internally displaced in northern Nigeria, among them half a million children. Since 2009, more than 15,000 civilians have lost their lives, and hundreds of thousands displaced.