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Urgent Need for Stability in the Sahel

Accra Initiative summit on West Africa counter-terrorism cooperation gathering heads of state and government in Accra, Ghana. (November 22, 2022.)

The United States is growing increasingly concerned by the security, humanitarian, and political crises unfolding in the Sahel.

Urgent Need for Stability in the Sahel
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In the Sahel, violence perpetrated by terrorists and violent extremists is compounding an already disastrous humanitarian situation and destabilizing the entire region, according to the United Nations.

Five years ago, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger formed the Joint Force of the Group of Five, or G5, to counter terrorism in the Sahel. Today, despite Mali’s withdrawal from the group in May, G5 “remains an important component in responding to the insecurity.”

Nonetheless, “The United States is growing increasingly concerned by the security, humanitarian, and political crises unfolding in the Sahel,” said U.S. Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs Robert Wood.

“The region has witnessed a dramatic increase in the strength and influence of violent extremist groups. Threats to civilians, reports of human rights abuses and violations, and levels of displacement and humanitarian need are all on the rise.”

As far as the United States is concerned, “instability in the Sahel is firmly a security problem with a democratic governance solution.”

“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. Population growth, displacement, and a changing climate exacerbate these governance failures by undermining traditional livelihoods and creating new competition over vital resources. Women and youth are disproportionately affected by these challenges, fueling greater inequality and injustice.”

“The United States is further concerned by short-sighted security partnerships with the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group, whose forces are exploiting natural resources and actively undermining stability in Mali and elsewhere in Africa,” said Ambassador Wood.

“In Mali, allegations of human rights abuses have skyrocketed as a result of Wagner operations in the name of “counterterrorism.” These operations often target marginalized groups.”

Ambassador Wood noted that Kremlin-linked disinformation and propaganda campaigns are inciting violence against UN personnel, while the Wagner group obstructs UN peacekeepers as they work to stabilize the region, protect civilian lives “and put the country on a path to peace and democratic rule.”

“The United States urges Sahelian governments to focus on structural drivers of instability to build a new social compact with its people and lay the groundwork for lasting peace and security,” said Ambassador Wood. “The United States stands alongside institutions working to build greater governance and security force capacities, promote sustainable development, and prevent democratic backsliding.”