Sahel: the UN calls for the transitions in Mali and Burkina Faso to be completed quickly

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Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee warned that this is most certainly a setback for the Sahel, an opinion shared by most delegations, with the exception of the Russian Federation, which described this decision as “logical”.

In her remarks, Ms. Pobee recalled that this Force was created in 2017 by the Heads of State of the G5 Sahel on the basis of a common vision and the desire to take their destiny into their own hands in the face of terrorism in the Sahel. Mali’s decision is “untimely and regrettable”, she said, while noting that the consequences of this decision cannot yet be appreciated.

The senior official also warned that the uncertain results of the transitions in Mali and Burkina Faso have already affected the operationalization of the Joint Force, which has slowed down considerably, further noting that the G5 Sahel does not has not met at a high political level since November 2021

The security situation has worsened

According to the Assistant Secretary-General, since the last Security Council meeting on the Sahel, the security situation in the region has worsened.

“Terrorism and insecurity continue to spread, devastating the lives of millions of people. Civilians are often the main victims of terrorist acts. The suffering and loss suffered by civilian populations at the hands of terrorist groups is indescribable,” said Ms. Pobee.

“Food insecurity, school closures, the disintegration of entire communities are the direct consequences of this prolonged instability and have a lasting impact, especially for young people, who find themselves without opportunities and without prospects,” explained the expert. African.

Mali’s withdrawal from the G5 Sahel, a step backwards for the region

According to the senior UN official, the decision of the Malian transitional authorities, on May 15, to withdraw from the G5-Sahel and its joint force “is both unfortunate and regrettable”.

She recalled that the G5-Sahel Joint Force had been created by the G5 Heads of State, driven by a common vision and their desire “to take their destiny into their own hands and to fight head-on against terrorism in the Sahel”.

“The difficult political and security dynamics in the Sahel, and the uncertain outcomes of the transitions in Mali and Burkina Faso in particular, have already had an impact on the operationalization of the G5-Sahel Joint Force, which has slowed considerably” , said Ms. Pobee, noting that for more than six months, the G5 Sahel had not convened a high-level political meeting and that its Defense and Security Committee had not met either.

It welcomed the efforts made by the commander of the joint force, General Bikimo, to continue to plan and conduct operations of the joint force, particularly in the Center sector encompassing the countries of Liptako-Gourma, the region most affected by the spread of terrorism, “however without the participation of the Malian battalions”, she added.

Ms. Pobee said the impact of Mali’s withdrawal on the organization and dynamics of the region remains to be seen, but that it is “most certainly a step backwards for the Sahel”.

MINUSMA has provided support to the joint force and will continue as long as it is mandated by this Council.

“The Mission has worked with contractors to deliver survival consumables to Force contingents and will honor requests for support received by the other four contingents outside of Mali.”

Deterioration of the human rights situation

In the context of these protracted political and security crises, the protection of the most vulnerable has become even more important.

However, and as the UN Secretary-General noted in his report, “the deterioration of the human rights situation in the region is of grave concern, given reports of grave violations against civilians, both by armed terrorist groups but also, according to some reports, by the armed and security forces of the region,” the Ghanaian diplomat said, calling “more than ever” on the countries of the region to intensify their efforts to uphold and protect human rights.

She warned that, despite the unique challenge of having to uproot terrorist groups “often deeply rooted in communities”, which makes counter-terrorism operations extremely difficult to carry out”, it is important to preserve civilians during its operations.

“If civilians are victims of these operations, these efforts will be in vain. Not only do they cause immeasurable human suffering, but they seriously undermine trust in the state and fuel the vicious circle of radicalization,” she explained to the Fifteen.

Complete the transitions in Mali and Burkina Faso quickly

Ms. Pobee also stressed the need for a holistic approach, “one that honors the primacy of politics, that tackles the root causes of poverty and exclusion and that seeks to provide opportunities and fulfilling lives to many young people in the region.

“To do this, the state must be closer to the people and be one with them by providing security and basic services to communities on the periphery as well,” she said.

“It will be crucial for stakeholders in the region to reach consensus on how best to complete the transitions in Mali and Burkina Faso quickly, and in a way that responds to the grievances of the people in each country,” said estimated the Assistant Secretary-General, the callers also “to overcome their differences and maintain dialogue in order to pursue their common security objectives”.

“We remain firmly resolved to support the region and the G5-Sahel in this endeavor,” said the senior UN official.

Innovation to counter terrorist groups

Ms Pobee called for “rethinking approaches” and changing “the way we do our work”, with “innovative approaches in the face of the ever-changing tactics of terrorist groups, whose influence continues to expand”. .

She welcomed the strategic assessment of security and governance initiatives in the Sahel with the aim of strengthening support for the G5-Sahel, its Joint Force and other initiatives in the region, undertaken by the African Union and the United Nations Secretariat.

According to the African expert, this assessment will be carried out in close collaboration with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the G5-Sahel and will also focus on innovative ways to mobilize sustainable resources for these initiatives. regional.

A high-level independent panel on security and development in the Sahel, chaired by the former president of Niger, HE Mahamadou Issoufou, will oversee the independent strategic assessment.

“We look forward to the results of this independent assessment and remain convinced that it is essential to work together to address the challenges facing the Sahel,” concluded Ms. Pobee.

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