The UN Security Council was informed on Wednesday on unprecedented terrorist violence’ in West Africa and the Sahel region. As UN official reports, the terrorists have intensified their activity, and its humanitarian consequences are alarming.
The UN Special Representative and Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) has presented his latest report to the UN SC during its first formal meeting of the year. The top UN official has voiced concern that Sahel has experienced a devastating surge in terrorist attacks against civilian and military targets.
Talking to the colleagues, Mohamed Ibn Chambas reiterated that the humanitarian consequences of the increased terroristic activities are alarming.
The UNOWAS head elaborated on terrorist-attack casualties in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, the African countries that are very vulnerable to the terrorist attacks. The number of casualties has leapt five-fold since 2016 – with more than 4,000 deaths reported in 2019 alone as compared to some 770 three years earlier.
According to the UNOWAS, the geographic focus of terrorist attacks has shifted eastwards from Mali to Burkina Faso. The violence is increasingly threatening West African coastal countries. In Burkina Faso only, the deaths toll jumped from about 80 in 2016 to over 1,800 last year.
The most alarming is intercommunal violence is often intertwined, especially in peripheral areas of West Africa where the State’s presence is weak.
“Farmer-herder clashes remain some of the most violent local conflicts in the region” said SRSG Chambas to the UN Security Council.
On 21 December, the ECOWAS Heads of State summit “adopted a 2020-2024 action plan to eradicate terrorism in the sub-region”, he said. In the months ahead, Mr Chambas stressed that UN regional mission’s presence is important.
“As UNOWAS’ mandate is renewed, we count on the Council’s continued full support”, concluded the Special Representative.