The Economic Community of West African states (ECOWAS) has embarked on a four-day workshop on developing Civil-Military coordination strategies to aid humanitarian action across West Africa.
Dr Sintiki Ugbe, Director, Humanitarian and Social Affairs, ECOWAS Commission, Abuja, during the workshop in Lagos said this was necessary considering the varied humanitarian challenges confronting the region.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that delegates cutting across the 15 member states of ECOWAS were represented at the workshop which began on Monday, April 3.
The workshop will end on April 6, 2023.
Ugbe noted that humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable citizens was a critical mandate that ECOWAS had to pursue with all vigour.
“Today, ECOWAS is hosting a regional workshop on Civil-Military coordination,.
“Our region is faced with conflicts, terrorism, impact of climate change, food insecurity and many other challenges as this has led to a surge in humanitarian assistance.
“But, in providing humanitarian assistance, civilians cannot do it alone, they need military assistance to work together in a coordinated fashion to deliver assistance to vulnerable population.
“So, what we are trying to do as ECOWAS is to see how we can strengthen Civil-Military coordination, as it has become important in our region because it is difficult for humanitarian actors to reach those who are in need.
“The only way to enhance humanitarian access is to strengthen the synergy of Civil-Military coordination to promote compliance with humanitarian principles with comparative advantage in the use of our resources as civilians and military,” she said.
According to Ugbe, ECOWAS had enjoyed the support and cooperation of ECOWAS countries’ Heads of States over the years.
She said: “Through their approval and mandate, we have the ECOWAS community levy that we use for implementing our programmes but that is not enough.
““We also mobilise resources from our partners, just like this workshop is done with partnership between ECOWAS commission and some other organisations, with funding from the European Union and we have our United Nations partners who are providing technical support.”
Earlier, Mr Usman Obeche, Programme Officer for the workshop said the rationale behind the workshop was to organise ECOWAS working groups.
According to him, the workshop is also meant to establish linkages between the working groups and other relevant forum such as the regional committee for disaster management in West Africa, the ECOWAS standardised emergency management system and the national disaster risk reduction platform.
He said at the end of the day, some of the outcomes would be to have established standards and guidelines for the use of national military assets in emergencies and ECOWAS and member states would have been developed.
“Challenges in military coordination would be identified as well as emerging policy issues and gaps in the field of response,” Obeche said.
In his goodwill address, Mr Trond Jensen, Head of Office, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), assured participants that the workshop would be strategic.
Jensen emphasised the need for meaningful collaboration and constructive dialogue between the military and civilians.
He said this was essential in solving common problems and building a brighter
future for the many people
“This workshop will be strategic and deliberations will design an appropriate civil-military coordination strategy for the ECOWAS region that meets the requirements of international best practices,” he said.
Source: News Agency of Nigeria