Continued regional coordination and cooperation is fundamentally important in combatting violent extremism, terrorist attacks, and inter-communal violence throughout the Sahel, said United States Representative to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield Tuesday.
“Already in 2021, at least 300 civilians were killed in attacks, and nearly 2.2 million people were internally displaced in the Sahel,” said the ambassador at a United Nations Security Council briefing.
Since 2017, the United States has committed more than $588 million in security assistance and other counter-violent extremism support to the G5 Sahel countries, which consist of Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Mali and Mauritania.
Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield asserted that the existing G5 Sahel Trust Fund and bilateral support to the Joint Force are the “right approach toward addressing the Sahel’s security concerns.”
Yet, tactical counterterrorism measures are not enough to establish stability and ensure security in the region. “Instability and violence are also symptoms of a crisis of state legitimacy,” the ambassador asserted.
She emphasized the importance of health and development, security, and humanitarian assistance in the Sahel, of which the United States has contributed $2 billion.
“Stability comes from providing economic opportunity, protecting the rule of law, and engaging communities in decisions that affect them,” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield.
Millions of people across the Sahel have been affected by the ongoing violent extremism and jihadism, which have led to a humanitarian crisis. Across the region, there have been reports of human rights abuses committed by extremist groups as well as by security forces.
Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield called on African leadership to implement legal framework that protects human rights and hold those responsible for these atrocities accountable, in many cases including conducting trials.
As the people who live in the Sahel hope for an improved future and better protection of human rights, there are practical counterterrorism measures that ought to be taken but there are also changes that can be taken on a governmental and administrative level to help promote regional stability and security.
The promotion of democratic ideals and the unwavering defense of fundamental human rights are integral in improving the situation in the Sahel, which is an issue that is best faced cooperatively by its countries’ governments with the assistance of foreign actors such as the United States and United Nations.
“Democracy leads to good governance. Good governance leads to stability. And stability will lead to peace and prosperity for all,” concluded Thomas-Greenfield of the United States.