African-led force on terrorism in Sahel faces challenges – UN

The UN Security Council has been told that the African-led joint task force Group of Five (G5) on terrorism in the Sahel is now operational but facing challenges.

The G5 – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger – set up the force to tackle the threat of terrorism in Africa’s Sahel region.

According to the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, El-Ghassim Wane, the force is facing several challenges including funding.

“The creation of the G5 Sahel Joint Force has the potential to make a significant contribution to efforts already under way to stabilize the region.

“But we must also be realistic about the challenges that remain and the issues that remain to be resolved,” Wane told the 15-member Council in New York.

“The success of the Joint Force depends as much on deepening this regional partnership and on the applicable policy framework, as on the determination of its members to achieve its operationalization, and the unfailing support of their international partners.”

Wane said the joint force offered a “unique opportunity” to respond to regional challenges, but only if other aspects and cases of instability in the region are addressed.

“Addressing the root causes of instability in the Sahel requires going beyond military action and tackling the governance gap, chronic poverty and unemployment, climate change and financing for development,” he said.

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Wane stressed the need to tackle cross-border crime and to impose targeted sanctions, as well as to create a political strategy to guide the activities of the joint force and align them with the Malian peace process and other regional initiatives.

He also said that the joint force should work closely with the recently established working group of the Executive Committee on the Sahel chaired by UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and the African Union’s peace and security architecture.

Among the greatest needs are funding, Wane said praying the five member states for contributing funds to the project.

“Those joint contribution, combined with the European Union’s pledged contribution, as announced by Commissioner Federica Mogherini in June, amount to €108 million, or 25 per cent of total requirements.

“While generating pledges and contributions to meet the requirements of the< Joint Force will be critical, the setting up of transparent, coordinated and effective funding will be equally as important,” Wane said.

The senior UN official also noted the planned meeting in September hosted by German and French Defence ministries to discuss further opportunities to support the joint force.

The joint force is ready to conduct its first coordinated operations along Mali’s borders with Niger and Burkina Faso in October, with greater capacity in spring 2018.

A written report on the workings of the joint force is expected in October, the senior UN official also said.