Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 15 December 2019

UN says G5 Sahel force needs more support in anti-extremist fight

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says he remains deeply concerned by violence in region

Malian soldiers in the G5 Sahel joint military force on patrol during a 2017 operation. AFP
Malian soldiers in the G5 Sahel joint military force on patrol during a 2017 operation. AFP

The G5 military task force in the Sahel faces persistent shortages of training and equipment in the worsening war against armed extremist groups, a UN report released on Tuesday said.

The five-nation force was set up in 2014 to tackle the threat posed by militant groups in the Sahel region of Africa, and is made up of troops from Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad.

Supported by France, the G5 Sahel could eventually replace France's 4,500-strong Barkhane force, stationed in the Sahel region of Africa since 2014.

"The security situation continued to deteriorate across the Sahel region, with attacks by terrorist groups against civilians and security forces, and persistent violence along community lines," the UN report said.

It was submitted to the UN Security Council by Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The Sahel force was relatively quiet in the period covered by the report, between May and October 2019, because of the rainy season "and the impact of persistent equipment and training shortfalls on its operations", Mr Guterres said.

"I remain deeply concerned about the spiralling violence in the Sahel, which has spread to coastal states of West Africa along the Gulf of Guinea," the document read.

"Terrorist groups have strengthened their foothold across the Sahel region, making large swaths of territory unstable and stoking ethnic violence, especially in Burkina Faso and Mali."

Since January more than 1,500 civilians have been killed in Burkina Faso and Mali, and more than one million people have been internally displaced across the five countries – more than twice the number displaced in 2018.

"To fully play its role and yield more tangible results, the joint force will need more support," Mr Guterres said.

He said the Sahel countries called for a stronger UN mandate for the force and more funds.

But this does not have US support at the UN, as Washington prefers to offer its assistance directly to the affected countries.

Updated: November 13, 2019 12:26 AM

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