Tag Archives: Sahel

French soldiers slain in Burkina Faso hostage operation

Four hostages have been rescued by the military in Burkina Faso, the Ministry of foreign affairs of France informed in a communique.

Two French, one American woman and one South Korean woman.

It is with profound sadness that the government informed about the death of two French soldiers were slain during the operation. Four kidnappers were also neutralized.

The French hostages had been kidnapped in neighboring Benin on 1 May.

The two soldiers who were killed during the rescue were named as Cédric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello, described by officials as belonging to a special operations unit.

The French military posted photos of the soldiers on social media.

Burkina Faso has suffered more than 230 attacks in just over three years. In April more than 60 people died in ethnic clashes fueled by Islamic radicals attempting to gain control over Sahel.

Sahel stability as key to EU security

“The EU supports the efforts the G5 Sahel countries in the fight against terrorism, organised crime and any other threat to security and peace” says the text of conclusions adopted by the EU Foreign Affairs Council.

“The EU wants to reinforce its regional approach in the Sahel with the aim of supporting cross-border cooperation, regional cooperation structures, and, in this context, of enhancing national capacities of the G5 Sahel countries. Stability in the Sahel region is also key for European security” EU Foreign Ministers Council, February 18, 2019.

Tajani: “We can’t stop migration”

“Until 2016, 90% of irregular migrants travelled through the Niger to Libya and Europe. In just 2 years, Niger reduced migration flows by 95%, from over 300,000 to about 10,000 in 2018. We need to support this model and extend it to other Sahel countries following the example with Turkey, where we committed 6 billion euros to close the so-called ‘Balkan route’, ” declared European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, at the end of his official visit to Niamey in Niger where he headed a mission of entrepreneurs, researchers, and representatives of international organisations.

“Together with effective control of external borders, the migration crisis must be tackled at source, with investments and economic partnerships triggering economic development and opportunities for young Africans. I am convinced that the mission of economic and technological diplomacy that accompanied me here is a first step to attracting European investment and technology transfers to Niger, “ added Tajani.

President Tajani also underlined the need for a common and strategic European approach to relations with African countries and in particular those in the Sahel region (in addition to Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Chad): “Irregular migration and Africa’s growth require a European-level strategy. Any solution taken at national level ends up being temporary, isolated and ineffective. We need a medium to long term vision, with a real ‘Marshall Plan’ capable of mobilizing large-scale public and private investments in the African continent. In this sense, the collaboration with Niger has been extraordinary and represents a model for many other African countries “.

The President of the European Parliament also visited a refugee reception center run by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) attended by persons evacuated to Niger from Libya. At the center, Tajani expressed his commitment to strengthen the fight against the traffickers who perpetrate unspeakable violence and torture to men, women and children: “These young Somali and Eritrean women refugees told me about the horrible violence they suffered in the Libyan camps. They have been saved thanks to the work of UNHCR and the EU. Their agony drives us to up the fight against the traffickers”.

President Tajani was received in Niamey by the President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou, the President of the Nigerian National Assembly Ousseini Tini, and Prime Minister Brigi Rafini. Tajani had meetings and talks with the Presidents of the National Assemblies of the G5 Sahel countries and with the Secretary General of the Community of the 29 States of Sahel and Sahara (CEN-SAD), Ibrahim Sani Abani.

Tajani also stressed the importance of starting a process of democratization in Libya with the aim of stabilizing the entire region: “Apart from Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania are also our key partners to reach a solution to the Libyan crisis. Consequently, I invited representatives from these countries to participate in the conference in support of the organization of democratic elections in Libya that the European Parliament will organize in Brussels on 10 October, ” Tajani announced.

During his visit, the President of the European Parliament also undertook to strengthen the Erasmus + programme for Nigerian students and to conduct further joint initiatives in the strategic sectors of renewable energy, agriculture, water management and digital.

 

EU determined to support Mali in counterterrorism

Mali headquarters of an international counterterrorism task force, G5 Sahel, were attacked on Friday in a car bomb blast, killing six people and leaving many injured, according to officials. “Shortly after Friday prayers, a suicide bomber in a vehicle painted with UN colours blew up at the entrance to the G5 base in Sevare. It was a huge blast,” a military source in the G5 Sahel force told press.

The terrorist attack that has just hit the headquarters of the G5 Sahel regional force in Sévaré, central Mali is directly directed against all those who pledge to bring peace and stability to Mali and the Sahel” –  says the Joint statement by EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini and European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica.

The European Union offers its condolences and expresses its support for the families of the victims, the Malian government and the G5 Sahel countries.As emphasized at the EU / G5 Sahel Ministerial meeting on 18 June, we reiterate with renewed determination our full support for the Joint Force of the Sahel and our commitment to support the efforts of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Chad, as well as the entire international community, for the peace, security and development of these countries and the region“, – the statement concludes.

 

Buhari blames unnamed politicians for massacre in Plateau State

After violent clashes in central Nigeria between Muslim herders and Christian farmers, occuring during weekend media is citing police informing that 86 people were killed. The growing conflict between two groups has become deadlier than Nigeria’s Boko Haram extremist insurgency.

Following the massacre Nigeria’s president in a statement accused unnamed politicians of taking advantage of the chaos ahead of next year’s elections, calling it “incredibly unfortunate.”

Dramatic footage showed people in rage waving machetes and sticks and shouting at passing security forces as they weaved around overturned and burning vehicles.

President Muhammadu Buhari warned against reprisal attacks after the “deeply unfortunate killings across a number of communities”, while the military, police and counterterror units were sent to end the bloodshed. “No efforts will be spared” to find the attackers, Buhari vowed.

Nigeria’s government said “scores” were killed but did not announce a death toll. The independent Channels Television cited a Plateau State police spokesman, Mathias Tyopev, as saying 86 people had been killed, with at least 50 houses destroyed.

Nigeria has a population of 180 million with 87 million people living in extreme poverty. Since 1999, farmer-herder violence has killed thousands of people and displaced tens of thousands more. It followed a trend in the increase of farmer-herder conflicts throughout much of the western Sahel.

EU to reinforce counter-terrorism efforts in Mali

From 26 to 28 March, European External Action Service Deputy Secretary General Pedro Serrano and EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove led a high-level visit Mali to enhance cooperation on counter-terrorism issues, says the text of the EEAS statement.

The mission gave the opportunity to evaluate and advance EU counter-terrorism efforts in Mali, by combining work done under the Common Security and Defence Policy, in the area of Justice and Home Affairs and through development cooperation.

They had exchanges with Prime Minister Mobido Keita and ministries in charge of foreign affairs, defence, security, justice and home affairs, economy and religious affairs. They also met with civil society and representatives from partner countries. Deputy Secretary General Serrano held meetings with the EU civilian and military missions, EUCAP Sahel Mali and EUTM Mali, including the Regional Coordination Cell which aims at supporting cross-border cooperation within the Sahel. He also visited the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission (MINUSMA) and Operation Barkhane. A visit to Mopti/Sevare gave the opportunity to assess on the ground the EU’s stabilisation efforts in the region and to share views with the G5 Sahel Joint Force Commander and local authorities.

The European Union remains committed to supporting Mali in its efforts to achieving peace, social cohesion and development for the whole country, to the benefit of the wider Sahel region.

EU pledges more than  €400 million for Sahel

The International High Level Conference on the Sahel, co-chaired today by the European Union, the United Nations, the African Union and the G5 Sahel group of countries -Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, – has mobilised political support for the Sahel region, €414 million to support the Joint security Force of the G5 Sahel whilst reinforcing the coordination of sustainable development efforts in the region.

Sahel presser

“Instability has many factors so our response must be linked and ambitious. Security and development must go hand in hand – on the occasion, President Jean-Claude Juncker said.  “To do so, we must continue to mobilise all the instruments we have at our disposal. The EU has doubled its support to €100 million to reinforce the operationalisation of the G5 Sahel Joint Force and I am proud that all our friends and partners of the Sahel joined us in these efforts.”

Key decisions of the High Level Conference:

  • Reinforced political support to the region: A Joint Communiqué was adopted, reaffirming support to assist the G5 countries in bringing greater stability to the region. Important support was given to the Mali peace process: those that threaten the process can face sanctions.
  • Increased financial assistance for security: the EU doubled its funding to the G5 Sahel Joint Force to €100 million, which aims to improve regional security and fight terrorism. The EU and its Member States together contributed to half of the international support of the Joint Force. This new funding fully meets the needs of the Joint Force and gives it the means to improve security conditions in the region.
  • Better coordination of development efforts: with €8 billion in development aid over 2014-2020, the EU is the biggest donor to the G5 Sahel countries. The EU will play a leading role in the Alliance for the Sahel launched in July 2017. This new initiative aims to coordinate and deliver aid quicker and more efficiently in the most fragile regions and is open to all the partners of the international community.

The EU uses all its tools to support development efforts in the region, notably the ‘EU Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa’ under which €843 million has been committed so far. The EU is also a member and key supporter of the newly formed Alliance for the Sahel, set up recently to coordinate existing EU and Member States development assistance better and faster in the region.

In 2014, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger set up the “G5 Sahel” group of countries to foster close cooperation in the region and tackle the major challenges that these countries face – from extreme poverty, terrorism or trafficking of human beings, which has potential spill-over effects outside the region. Since then, the EU has stepped up cooperation with this African-led initiative to build a strong partnership on many fronts: from political dialogue, to development and humanitarian support, to strengthening security and tackling irregular migration.

The EU is itself a key security player in the region, with its 3 active Common Security and Defence Policy missions: EUCAP Sahel NigerEUCAP Sahel MaliEU training mission (EUTM) in Mali.

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