The Deputy Foreign Minister of Chad, Omar bin Daoud, warned the United Nations Security Council, on Tuesday, that mercenaries and foreign fighters from Libya were crossing into the Sahel region, threatening to undermine the gains of five West African countries in terms of fighting terrorism, by drowning the region in violence.
The Chadian official said: “The deterioration of the situation in the Sahel region will harm Africa as a whole, and could turn the continent into a confrontation arena and a base for international terrorism.”
He added: “The incursion of mercenaries from Libya into Chad led to the death of Chadian President Idriss Deby, last month, and this is a clear example of what could happen throughout the Sahel region. If the international community does not take appropriate action.”
He stressed that more than 400 people have been killed in attacks in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger since March, adding that one of the most important factors for defeating terrorists in the Sahel region is the five-nation African force fighting terrorism in the region, which needs continuous funding and a support office. UN Logistics is funded by contributions from 193 UN member states.
According to the Associated Press, the Force Commander, Niger’s Ambassador to the United Nations, other members of the African Council, France and the Secretary of the United Nations expressed the support of the United Nations office to provide long-term financing to the G5 Sahel Force consisting of Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Mauritania.
For her part, US Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield said that the administration of US President Joe Biden, like other members of the Council, is disturbed by the rise of violent extremism, terrorist attacks and inter-communal violence throughout the Sahel region, but said that the United States believes that “the peacekeeping funds it establishes.” The United Nations is not a viable source of funding for the joint force, and should continue to support it through a bilateral funding fund.
She added that since the G5 force was established in 2017, the United States has allocated more than $ 588 million in security assistance and other efforts to combat violent extremism in the five countries.
She added that stability also requires providing economic opportunities and protecting the rule of law, noting that the United States has provided more than two billion dollars in the fields of health, development, security and humanitarian aid to support the Sahel region.
In a related context, Niger’s ambassador to the United Nations, Abdou Abari, said that more than 2,440 civilians and members of the defense and security forces lost their lives in the border region between Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger in 2020.
He stressed the need to fight this cross-border terrorism, the repercussions of which are a source of great concern to the rest of Africa.
General Umaru Namata, the leader of the Group of Five, said at the virtual council meeting that the force, which now stands at 5,500 fighters, has carried out 25 operations since its launching in 2017, including 11 major campaigns since the end of 2019 with very positive results.
He indicated that besides neutralizing hundreds of terrorists and seizing or destroying a large amount of their equipment, which disrupted their logistical capacity; 79 people were arrested or captured between November 2020 and April 2021, and are currently undergoing legal process.
He added that the elimination of terrorism is a “long-term struggle”, and despite the slow progress, many challenges remain, and the G5 is in dire need of the aerial capabilities of its own, which are essential to its operation, saying the intelligence system is another weakness in the joint force.
The French ambassador, Nicolas de Riviere, whose country has its own counterterrorism force in the region and which cooperates with the Group of Five, revealed his concern about the deteriorating situation in the Sahel region.
He said: “The terrorist groups, although they are severely affected; However, it continues the violence and tries to extend its control, and the threat now extends to southern Mali, but also to Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo and Benin, and the effects of poverty and climate change exacerbate these tensions. Despite the efforts made by France and other countries; The humanitarian crisis in the Sahel is getting worse, with 29 million people in need of emergency aid.”