Terrorism in the Sahel: UN Security Council urged to support Sahel countries

In the face of growing terrorism and violent extremism in West Africa and the Sahel, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Office for the Region (UNOWAS), Mohamed Ibn Chambas, was at the bar on July 13, to urge the Security Council to further support national and regional initiatives against this “serious threat”, by relying especially on the strengthening of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel.

The call comes a few weeks after a big summit in Bamako, which brought together the countries of the Sahel and the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, around the mechanisms of setting up a joint force to prevent terrorist threats. And this, after several similar meetings across the region.

Mr. Chambas recalled the vulnerability of the initiatives of the States of the region in favor of development, investment, in infrastructure and job creation due to the factors of insecurity “both traditional and new”.

The Representative explained that terrorism and violent extremism, by amplifying humanitarian crises and threatening the integrity of States in the region, exacerbated traditional threats in West Africa and the Sahel.

These factors are compounded by other challenges such as climate change, youth unemployment, urbanization, irregular migration and trafficking in human beings, Mohamed Ibn Chambas added.

With regard to the Sahel, he drew the attention of the Security Council to the urgency of its support for initiatives undertaken in the military to protect the borders that these various countries, especially Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger have in common to avoid the instability in Mali being a damper to terrorist activities in the area.

Beyond the Sahel, the Representative emphasized the intensification of terrorist and extremist threats in Lake Chad, Niger and Cameroon, which hampers development projects and put the military support of the regions into difficulty.

He also notes that smuggling, cross-border crime and trafficking in human beings should not be masked by the threat of extremist and terrorist groups.