71ST UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY
By Celestin Ngoa Balla, US Africa News. Updated 2016-09-26
After years of absence, the Cameroonian president will address the General Assembly. He will also attend several events held on the sidelines of the event.
Paul Biya, President of Cameroon, has been in New York since September 18, 2016 to take part in the 71st session of the General Assembly of the UN. Officially, he will speak from the rostrum of the global organization. This year is focused on the theme "The Sustainable Development Goals: A Universal Push to Transform our World."
According to a diplomatic source, the head of state arrived with a very tight schedule. On Monday, he went to the headquarters of the UN to attend the high-level meeting on the management of massive movements of refugees and migrants. "This meeting is an historic opportunity to propose a plan to improve the response of the international community to this problem. It marks a turning point for strengthening the management of international migration and offer a unique opportunity for a more responsible and predictable system in response to the massive displacement of refugees and migrants ", he said. The next day, Biya was to attend the Leaders Summit on Refugees, launched on the sidelines of the General Assembly by Barack Obama; a final push from the outgoing US president to the United Nations to urge the international community to make significant new commitments on behalf of refugees. According to our source at the Embassy of Cameroon to the United Nations, Biya had an interest in being there. Because of instability in the Central African sub-region, the country has become the land of refuge for hundreds of thousands of refugees from neighboring countries. Last year Cameroon offered hospitality to 240,000 persons of concern to UNHCR. The Cameroonian President is looking for solutions and financial resources to support this batch of refugees. The US’s UN Representative, Samantha Power noted in an address at a High-Level Side Event on the Humanitarian Crisis on in the Lake Chad Basin, which took place on September 23, that Cameroon has committed to granting the refugees ID cards that will make it easier for them to pursue jobs and education.
The President also planned to address the Lake Chad Summit. In 1963, the lake was 26,000 km² in area; now it is less than 2000 km². Up for debate: there are experts who doubt the reality of the drying up of Lake Chad. They believe this is a cyclical phenomenon, as we have already seen the Lake Chad diminish to almost nothing and return naturally, in the past. For others, the drying up is due to human activity and global warming. In addition, Lake Chad has become the coveted object of all the major powers. Among countries that share its waters, there is no Entente Cordiale. In Paris during the COP21, Biya launched an appeal to save the Lake, and he was expected to reiterate this call during his time in New York.