Mali’s withdrawal from G5 Sahel, Joint Force ‘a setback’ for the region
NNN: Mali’s decision on May 15 to withdraw from the G5-Sahel group and its Joint Force is “unfortunate” and “regrettable”, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council on Wednesday, urging the countries of the region to redouble efforts to protect human rights, amid protracted political and security crises.
Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa at the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding AffairsOpens in new window and Peace OperationsOpens in new window, said the Joint Force was created in 2017 by the “G5” Heads of State – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger – to combat terrorism in the Sahel “head on”.
However, the challenging political and security dynamics in the Sahel, and the uncertain outcomes of the transitions in Mali and Burkina Faso, in particular, have already slowed Joint Force operations. Meanwhile, the G5 Sahel has not convened a high-level political meeting since November 2021, while its Defense and Security Committee has not met for more than six months.
Thanks to Commander General Oumar Bikimo, he said, the Joint Force has been able to carry out operations in its three sectors since the Council last met in November, despite the absence of Malian battalions.
It remains to be seen how Mali’s decision to leave the G5 and the Joint Force will affect the dynamics in the region. “It is certainly a step backwards for the Sahel,” he said.
MINUS at hand
For its part, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMAopens in a new window) will continue to provide support to the Joint Force as long as the Council so entrusts it. It has been working with contractors to deliver life support consumables to contingents and will respond to requests received from the other four contingents outside of Mali.
“Protecting the most vulnerable has become increasingly important,” he stressed.
It cited reports of serious violations committed against civilians, by armed terrorist groups, as well as allegedly by armed and security forces.
To be sure, uprooting terrorist groups deeply enmeshed or embedded in communities is a “unique challenge” in the Sahel, he said, making counter-terrorism operations immensely difficult to carry out.
But if civilians are victims of these groups, “those same efforts will be useless.” Terrorist operations cause immeasurable human suffering, seriously undermine trust in the state and fuel radicalisation.
It’s time to rethink
“Perhaps it is time to rethink our approaches and change the way we do our work,” he added. “We need innovative approaches in the face of the ever-evolving tactics of terrorist groups, whose influence continues to expand.”
He noted that for the past five years, the international community, donors and partners have struggled to reach a consensus on the most effective support mechanism for a collective security response in the Sahel.
And the lack of consensus persists, despite the fact that everyone recognizes that the terrorist attack in the Sahel constitutes a slow-burning deadly threat to international peace and security.
A holistic approach more necessary than ever
“Now it is more urgent than ever to act,” he said.
He called for a holistic approach that honors “the primacy of politics”, addresses the causes of poverty and exclusion, and brings opportunities and full lives to many young people in the region.
The African Union Commission and the United Nations Secretariat will jointly carry out a strategic assessment of security and governance initiatives in the Sahel, he said, with the aim of strengthening support for the G5-Sahel, its Joint Force and other security and governance initiatives in the Sahel. the region.
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