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U.S. Concerned Over Crises in the Sahel

Soldiers hold portraits at the funeral of soldiers killed in an attack by Islamist militants on a convoy in Burkina Faso.

The security, humanitarian, and political crises occurring in the Sahel are causing a dramatic increase in the strength and influence of violent extremism.

U.S. Concerned Over Crises in the Sahel
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The United States is deeply concerned by the security, humanitarian, and political crises occurring in the Sahel. These crises are causing a dramatic increase in the strength and influence of violent extremism that is spreading into parts of Coastal West Africa, said Ambassador Richard Mills, U.S. Deputy Representative to the United Nations:

“Violent extremism thrives when state authorities are absent; when the delivery of services is weak; when democracy is fragile or fleeting; when justice is inaccessible; and when economic and political exclusion prevail. For the United States, instability in the Sahel is clearly a security problem with a democratic governance solution.”

In addition, “the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group is interfering in African countries’ internal affairs, robbing them of their resources, committing human rights abuses, and endangering the safety and security of peacekeepers and UN personnel,” declared Ambassador Mills. “Its presence and operations are not only failing to address the immediate violent extremist threat, but actually increasing the likelihood violent extremism will grow.”

The United States is also gravely concerned about democratic backsliding across the region and urges the return of democratically elected, civilian-led governments. “We applaud the continued efforts of UNOWAS to support democratic processes and to advise transitional governments on how to return to full civilian-led democracy,” said Ambassador Mills.

The United States strongly condemns the killing of 28 people in northern Burkina Faso in late December and will continue to engage with the transitional government to strengthen protections for human rights and civil liberties.

Ambassador Mills expressed concerns regarding the departure of the UN resident coordinator in Burkina Faso and about reports that the French Ambassador to Burkina Faso has been asked to leave the country.

Ambassador Mills called on the government of Mali to eliminate all restrictions against MINUSMA so that it can carry out its UN mandate, which includes protecting civilians, promoting human rights, and advancing peace and stability in Mali.

“We must reinvigorate our collective action and support our African partners in addressing the problems that cross borders,” said Ambassador Mills. The U.S. applauds the UN, the [African Union], G5 Sahel, and ECOWAS for doing just that.