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Sahel: UN Chief urges action to address ‘deteriorating security’

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called for concerted efforts to address the worsening security situation in the Sahel region.

Guterres made the call in a video message to the G5 Sahel Summit held in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, to discuss the group’s anti-insurgency operations in the region.

The two-day event, which began on Monday, had in attendance leaders of the G5-Sahel member states: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Nigeria, with French President Emmanuel Macron joining via video link.

Guterres said that in spite of “recent promising developments” in the Sahel, including peaceful conduct of elections, he remained concerned about the deteriorating security situation there.

He singled out the Liptako-Gourma area, where “the spiral of violence is aggravating an already difficult humanitarian situation.”

“And once again, it is the civilian population that is paying the price: There are more than two million displaced persons.

“Millions of others are facing acute food insecurity and this is all in the context of a major climate crisis,” he said.

According to him, the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened  socio-economic and health challenges and has pushed no fewer than six million people into extreme poverty.

Noting that the G5 Sahel had a key role to play in addressing the crisis, the UN chief called for “stable and predictable” funding for its joint force.

“African peace support and counter-terrorism operations must receive a mandate by the Security Council under Chapter VII  and sustained financing, including through assessed contributions,” he stated.

He added that beyond the security response, governments should prioritise development, the rule of law and good governance which he described as the cornerstones of stability in the region.

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