Tag Archives: Sahel

Michel addresses Nouakchott Summit

“I am not physically present at this time in Nouakchott but know that I am with all my heart with you“, said the President of the EU Council Charles Michel, addressing the Summit in Mauritania capital, Nouakchott via teleconference. In his speech “Alongside the G5 Sahel, the European Union keeps its commitments” he reiterated the message of support and determination of the EU to continue the strategy of joined international efforts to defend Sahel from criminal networks, and terrorism.

I naturally want to start by thanking you, in a friendly and warm way, dear President in office of the G5 Sahel, Mohamed Cheikh El Ghazouani. I would also like to thank the President of France, dear Emmanuel Macron, for joining me again in these essential exchanges. I also want to salute the participation of the different countries that join us. I see this as a sign of a dynamic that is encouraging.

The Pau Summit last January was an opportunity to give new impetus to our relations. It is up to us to transform the test, while the situation on the ground, as we know, remains difficult, remains worrying on different fronts. Violence has claimed some 4,500 lives in the Sahel in the past 6 months. And we know that the pandemic we are facing does not help the situation.

As you know, in January in Pau, we agreed to organize a G5 Sahel-EU summit. It took place virtually on April 28. It was an extension of our meeting in Pau. This April 28 Virtual Summit was a boost for our partnership. It was an opportunity to reaffirm our mutual responsibilities. It was an opportunity to re-mobilize all the European institutions and the Member States of the European Union. In a way, he “Europeanized” the Coalition for the Sahel. An additional step was taken with the Ministerial Conference on June 12 which “internationalized” this Coalition, which is naturally essential. I of course welcome the commitment of the United Nations, the African Union, ECOWAS, and the International Organization of La Francophonie.

Since the Pau Summit, we have made precise and very concrete progress. They are all testimony to this commitment that we want to strengthen alongside you:

– First, more and more European Member States are either already contributing or are going to contribute to Takuba, by deploying special forces or equipment, or by politically supporting this task force;

– Then, we have just adopted a new program to support Niger’s efforts in the fight against criminal networks linked to terrorism. You know that we were inspired for this by the excellent work of the Joint Investigation Teams which are already mobilized in the fight against the smuggling of migrants;

– The EU training mission in Mali (EUTM Mali) has seen its mandate extended and its budget reinforced. As I speak, 95% of the workforce requested has already been made available by the 22 out of 27 Member States participating. As soon as conditions allow, we will deploy the entire workforce;

– Finally, we reconstructed the Joint Force Command Post which has just been inaugurated in Bamako, two years after the attack which had destroyed the headquarters of Sévaré;

– In addition, nearly 200 million euros in additional funding has been announced to strengthen security, stability and resilience in the region. And concrete projects are ready to be launched;

– The same dynamic is at work concerning support for the deployment of the State and basic services. This is the keystone, as we well know, for our stabilization efforts, with the P3S initiative [1]. The European Union will also coordinate it;

– You also know that we are working to update our strategy for the Sahel, in dialogue and of course taking into account your priorities;

– Finally, a word, Mr President, you mentioned it and we have discussed it together in recent months, concerning debts. You know that this is an issue that is close to my heart and for which I wish to take action. Because I consider this question legitimate, certainly at a time when your economies, your societies, are under pressure, a fortiori in connection with this crisis of COVID-19 which strikes us and strikes you.

I can hear your appeal on the subject of debt cancellation. You know that I am committed to being sincerely involved on this subject, and I do intend to open the debate. It is done, in the European space this debate has now started. Within the European Union, the ministers for international cooperation have taken up the subject – an important subject also for Heads of State and Government. I also intend to conduct this debate within the framework of our international contacts. I thus had the opportunity, in the last virtual summits in which we participated, with Japan, with China also a few days ago, to systematically put this point of debts on the agenda. Because we understand that this is an issue that must mobilize the entire international community.

I also know that we can also count on Italy, which will assume the presidency of the G20 next year, and which, I am sure, will have a positive outlook, in particular on the debt moratorium. It is a work of conviction to carry out. And it is my intention, modestly but tenaciously, to take my part on behalf of the European Union. Finally, dear friends, you know that my ambition, my hope, is to be able to organize a meeting between the countries of the European Union and the G5 Sahel in order to continue to address all the subjects. As you can see, European commitment is not an artificial incantation: it is a reality with commitments and concrete effects. We can and must build together an area of security and economic prosperity. We must build an area where good governance reigns, and where the rule of law and fundamental rights also prevail. And I would like to say that the rule of law is not a footnote. The strength and honor of a state governed by the rule of law is not to fall into the trap of violence from its enemies. It’s not to look like the ones we fight. It is to make justice prevail – the same for all, the same for everyone. A word to conclude. We agreed at our previous summit to meet again with the leaders of the G5 Sahel. I am sure that with President Ghazouani, we will have the opportunity to work actively with you, with all of our peers, to try to continue to progress together. You can count on the commitment of the European Union. We stand by your side. I send you from Brussels my sincere and friendly greetings to those who are physically present in Nouakchott”

G5 Sahel Summit in Nouakchott

President Emmanuel Macron will travel to the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott on Juin 30 for a Summit of West African leaders to discuss the ongoing combat operations against Islamists in the Sahel region, Elysee Palace office said last week.

French President intends to request Mali and Burkina Faso for guarantees on their commitments in favor of peace, so as not to jeopardize the military gains recently acquired on the ground, said a source at the Elysée on Juin 29.

“All the progress recorded is fragile and can be jeopardized if the political dynamic is not suitable,” he continued.

The Prime Minister of Sapin Pedro Sanchez and the French Head of State Emmanuel Macron are due to make their first trip to Africa in person on Juin 30 since the coronavirus pandemic.

The G5 force operates with the over 5,000-strong French Barkhane force which has been deployed in the Sahel for the last seven years but has encountered increasing resistance from the Islamists, desiring to restore the historic Chaliphate of Sokoto.

The meeting in Mauritania comes six months after a Summit in Pau, France, where the leaders vowed to strengthen the efforts to defeat the jihad in Sahel.

After the Nouakchott meeting, the six leaders will hold video talks with other key players including European Council President Charles Michel and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said a French presidential official.

The other European leaders the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the President of the Italian Council Giuseppe Conte will participate in this summit only by videoconference. Five G5 Sahel heads of state and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guiterres, and the president of the EU Council Charles Michel will join by teleconference.

Political criis in Mail has agrravated the situation in Sahel, and caused concern of the European Union, one of the major humanitarian sponsors of the region. The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell has warned about the risk of a protracted poliitical crisis for the security and stablitiy of the region.

Borrell reacts on Mali killings

“Several killings took place in central Mali between June 3 and 5. More than 40 people were killed, including women and children. Serious suspicion hangs over the possible involvement of the Mali Armed Forces” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said in a statement, reacting upon allegations, including charges that Malian soldiers killed 43 people during attacks on two villages last week.

“The European Union wishes to express its indignation and deep concern at what constitute clear human rights violations. The European Union encourages the Government of Mali to complete the investigations which have been opened, to create the conditions necessary for the exact circumstances of these attacks to be established, for justice to be done and to fight against the impunity of those who would be guilty of such acts, whatever they are”.

“The European Union is fully mobilized alongside the states of the region for stability, development and security in the Sahel. Our commitment is conditioned and based on respect for human rights and international humanitarian law which are essential principles of our action. Nothing can justify abuses that will only strengthen the very people we fight”.

Security forces in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso have been accused of unlawfully killing or causing the disappearance of around 200 people. Amnesty said this could constitute war crimes.

The deliberate killings of unarmed civilians by security forces in Mali and Burkina Faso may constitute war crimes under international law and should be thoroughly investigated,” said Amnesty.
There have been multiple accusations of human rights abuses against the forces, which they have either denied, or promised to investigate in the future. The issue was also debated by the UN Security Council on June 5.

Image: illustration

Islamist warlord killed in Mali

Al-Qaeda warlord in north Africa, Abdelmalek Droukdel, is pronounced dead by French authorites after an operation in Mali.

Defence Minister Florence Parly said Droukdel along with members of his inner circle were neutralised in the north of the country on June 3.

French forces had also captured a senior Islamic State group commander in Mali in anther operation in May, she said.

The Minister described actions as “daring operations” had dealt “severe blows to the terrorist groups”.

Droukdel was in charge of all the al-Qaeda affiliates in north Africa and also commanded al-Qaeda’s Sahel affiliate, Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), which has been active in the north of Mali and Burkina Faso.

The captured Islamic State group commander, Mohamed Mrabat, was a jihadist was a long recored and had a senior role in the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) group, she said.

ISGS has been active in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.

Côte d’Ivoire joined counterterrorist operation

Soldiers from Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso conducted their first joint operation against jihadists insurgency near their shared border, neutralising eight suspected militants and arresting 14 others, Ivorian army said on May 24.

Burkina Faso and its neighbours Mali and Niger in West Africa’s vast Sahel zone are conducting operaions against Islamist insurgencies with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State, claiming to re-consturct the historic Caliphe of Sokoto.

Those terrorist groups have been strengthening and expanding their range of operations, leaving coastal countries like Cote d’Ivoire at risk of violence and unrest breaking into their territories.

The joint operation was launched on May 11 with about 1,000 Ivorian soldiers participating from their side of the 580-kilometre border with Burkina Faso, Ivorian army announced in a statement.

The suspected militants were killed in Burkina Faso, the army confirmed, adding that the operation is ongoing.

Jihadist attacks in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have escalated dramatically over the past year despite significant military support from France, which is engaged in partnerships with former colonies.

While Cote d’Ivoire has mostly been spared the violence affecting its neighbours, it was the victim in 2016 of an attack claimed by al Qaeda in which gunmen killed 19 people at a beach resort.
Image: illustration

EU welcomes Chad death penalty abolilition

On May 20, Chad adopted a new anti-terrorism law that no longer includes the death penalty for terrorism-related crimes, with life imprisonment as the maximum sentence. With this law, Chad has become the 22nd African state to abolish the death penalty for all crimes in law.

It is a strong signal to other countries in the world and contributes to the gradual abolition of the death penalty in Africa. 80% of the member states of the African Union are already abolitionist by law or apply a moratorium” reads the statement of the spokesperson of the European External Action Service.

“The European Union strongly opposes the death penalty in all circumstances.

“The Chad decision is also a step towards harmonizing the G5 Sahel’s legal framework in the fight against terrorism. In their Joint Declaration of 28 April 2020, the members of the European Council and the member states of the G5 Sahel stressed the importance of ensuring respect for human rights and international humanitarian law in the conduct of their actions”.

Image: Chad army celebrating victory of military operation

EU additional €50M aid across world

Today the European Commission announced an additional €50 million in humanitarian aid to help respond to the dramatic increase in humanitarian needs caused by the Coronavirus pandemic globally. The new funding follows increased appeals by humanitarian organisations, including the UN Global Appeal.

The new funding will help vulnerable people facing major humanitarian crises, notably in the Sahel and Lake Chad region, the Central African Republic, the Great Lakes region in Africa, Eastern Africa, Syria, Yemen, Palestine and Venezuela, as well as the Rohingya. It will provide access to health services, protective equipment, water and sanitation. It will be channelled through non-governmental organisations, international organisations, United Nations agencies, and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

“The Coronavirus pandemic is creating a humanitarian crisis of an enormous scale in some of the most fragile countries in the world. The pandemic threatens food security in countries where public health systems were already weak before this new crisis. We must act now to leave no area of the world unprotected. This is in our common interest. And it is crucial that humanitarian actors continue to have the access to carry out their life-saving work,” Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management, said.

The €50 million allocation comes in addition to significant humanitarian funding and actions already provided by the European Commission to respond to the most pressing needs created by the Coronavirus pandemic:

In February 2020, €30 million was allocated to the World Health Organization. Since then, the Commission has, subject to the agreement of the EU budgetary authorities,planned around €76 million to programmes included in the United Nations Global Humanitarian Response Plan. In addition, the Commission is providing direct funding for the work of humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement, which are in the frontline of the humanitarian response to Coronavirus.

Previously, on 8 May, the Commission also announced the establishment of an EU Humanitarian Air Bridge to transport humanitarian workers and emergency supplies for the Coronavirus response to some of the most critically affected areas around the world. The first flight on 8 May, operated in cooperation with France, transported around 60 humanitarian workers from various NGOs and UN agencies and 13 tonnes of humanitarian cargo to Bangui in the Central African Republic. Two subsequent humanitarian cargo flights to Central African Republic will transport a further 27 tonnes of humanitarian supplies in total.

On 15 May, on the second destination of the EU humanitarian air bridge 20 tons of supplies and humanitarian and health workers were flown to the West-African country of São Tomé and Principe. The flight was set-up in cooperation with the Portuguese government and several humanitarian partner organisations. On their return leg, the flight also brought back over 200 EU citizens and other passengers to Lisbon in a repatriation effort.

The additional humanitarian funding comes on top of some €20 billion in development and emergency funding from the Commission and Member States for both short-term and long-term needs around the world as part of a “Team Europe” approach.

Ukrainian soldier killed in Sahel

French Foreign Legion soldier died from injuries after anti-jihadist operation in Mali: Brigadier Dymyto Martynyouk was struck by an improvised explosive device during an “operation against terrorist groups” on April 23. He died from wounds on Mai 1, the Army announced in a communiqué.

In the late afternoon of April 23, a Barkhane Force military tanker was hit by an improvised explosive device in Liptako (Mali) while the unit to which it belonged was engaged in an operation against armed groups of terrorists.

Both injured in the vehicle were immediately taken care of by the medical team deployed alongside them, while a Cayman helicopter, escorted by a Tiger helicopter, was engaged to provide medical evacuation to the Gao base surgical centre.

The two soldiers were evacuated to France on April 24 in order to be able to apply the appropriate care.

Brigadier Dmytro Martynyouk of the 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment died on May 1 of his injuries. His comrade’s condition is stable, and his vital prognosis is not in jeopardy.

The Chief of the Defense Staff, General François Lecointre, bowed with deep sadness to the memory of this soldier who died for France. All his thoughts are with his family and his brothers in arms. (Image: illustration)

EU provides Sahel with €194M

The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell participated in the EU-G5 Sahel videoconference.

The videoconference provided an opportunity to reaffirm the EU’s support to the region, including in facing the coronavirus pandemic and its impact. On this occasion, the European Commission announced an additional € 194 million to support the security, stability and resilience in the Sahel.

The new financial commitments announced today are composed of €112 million to help strengthen the security and defence capabilities of the G5 Sahel countries, while ensuring respect for human rights and international humanitarian law as well as re-establishing the presence of the State and basic services throughout the territory. The remaining €82 million will be mobilised to intensify development efforts and help improving living conditions, resilience and social cohesion of vulnerable populations.

“The situation in the Sahel keeps deteriorating and the coronavirus pandemic cannot make us forget how serious the situation is in a region whose challenges are our challenges as well. The Sahel must remain on top of the international agenda. Our meeting today showed a clear commitment by all to accelerate joint efforts. I want to underline the important initiatives taken by the G5 Sahel countries themselves, the engagement of ECOWAS and the coordination role of the African Union. I am pleased to see the support from the African Union, including with the upcoming adoption of a stabilisation strategy for the region and the operationalisation of the African Peace and Security Architecture,” High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell, underlined.

“The European Union, in the same way as the United Nations and the African Union, has welcomed the call from the G5 Sahel on 27 April to the international community to help them face the consequences of the pandemic in an already very fragile region. Hence, the EU, as Team Europe, stands in full solidarity with the G5 Sahel, with € 449 million to be mobilised to help reduce health and socio-economic impacts of the coronavirus in the region. The EU welcomes the call on debt relief by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for most vulnerable countries that has helped secure the G20 moratorium of 15 April.As we discussed at the G5 Summit in Mauritania last February, there can be no security without development and vice versa” Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said.

G5 Sahel request of debt cancellation

The President of the European Council, HE Charles Michel and the President in office of the G5 Sahel, HE Mohamed Cheikh El Ghazouani, co-chaired today, April 28, 2020, a videoconference with all the Heads of State of the G5 Sahel , the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, and the EU High Representative Josep Borrell, in the presence of the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations and the President of the African Union Commission.

“During this videoconference, the leaders adopted a Joint Declaration by the members of the European Council with the member states of the G5 Sahel. The leaders agreed to continue joint efforts to expand the Coalition for the Sahel to other international partners.

“In view of the gravity of the situation in the G5 Sahel countries as well as their vulnerability to the spread of COVID-19, the co-Chairs stressed the urgency of effective solidarity from the international community in order to provide effective and sustainable response to the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, in Africa and in the Sahel in particular, in particular to limit the health and economic impact of this crisis.

“In this regard, the Co-Presidents wished to recall the Joint Declaration by the members of the European Council of 26 March 2020 and stressed the commitment of the European Union to international cooperation and to multilateral solutions to fight the pandemic and its consequences. The President of the European Council recalled that the European Union will do everything to help countries and communities to cope with the COVID-19 crisis, in particular to mitigate the negative socio-economic consequences of the crisis as well as to strengthen sustainability integrated global value and supply chains to adapt them as needed and to mitigate the negative socio-economic impacts of the crisis.

“The co-Chairs welcomed the appeal launched by several African and European leaders on April 15, 2020 – “Only a victory in Africa can end the pandemic everywhere“.

The co-Chairs welcomed the Declaration of the Extraordinary G5 Sahel Summit held on April 27, 2020, dedicated to the COVID-19 pandemic in the G5 Sahel area. They took note of the request by the G5 Sahel from the international community to take into account the requests of the G5 Sahel to face the COVID-19 crisis. They undertook to inform the members of the European Council, as well as international partners, with a view to examining the requests of African countries for the outright cancellation of the African debt, in response to the consequences of this meaningless pandemic. previous.

“The co-Chairs call on the international community to continue efforts to support the G5 Sahel countries in their efforts to combat the consequences of COVID-19.

“The Chairman-in-Office of the G5 Sahel wanted to express his appreciation for the European Union’s response to the international dimension of this unprecedented global crisis. He praised the memory of the thousands of victims of COVID-19 in recent weeks.

“The co-Chairs have agreed that a follow-up meeting, in the form of a videoconference, will be organized within three months“.

“As has been clarified by the Chadian authorities, President Idriss Déby’s announcement does not call into question the commitment of their troops to regional military systems, in particular the G5 Sahel Joint Force.
We also welcome the Chadian contribution, alongside the other contingents, in the fight against terrorism in the region
The G5 Sahel, is and remains well, central in the fight against terrorism and in favor of security in the Sahel. It is the European Union’s reference partner in the region, and that’s the meaning of today’s high-level meeting”
said EU spokesperson in a comment after the video conference.

The comment followed the announcement of Chad President Idriss Deby to restrain from participation in combat operations of G5 Sahel outside the territory of the country.

On few occasions President Deby expressed his disappointment with feeble participation of international partners in counter-terrorist military operations.

At the eve of the meeting President Idriss Déby called on his G5 Sahel peers to “make a choice”, saying that “the same meetings, the same meetings, the same debates, the same discussions, the same broken promises” had already taken place in the past.

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