Tag Archives: Sahel

Niger laments Sahel G5 “death”

Brussels 22.05.2022 Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum said that Mali’s decision, which came after it was not allowed to assume the group’s rotating presidency, meant the Sahel force was now “dead”.(Image: illustration)

“The isolation of Bamako in West Africa is bad for the whole sub-region,” Bazoum told French newspaper La Croix in an interview published on Wednesday.

But the force’s executive secretary adopted a more measured tone over Mali’s decision.

Eric Tiare echoed Pobee in calling Bamako’s decision “regrettable” but told the UNSC meeting that it had enjoyed some successes in combatting armed groups and helping foster socioeconomic development in the region. Tiare also called on the world body to offer it more support.

France’s envoy to the UN, Nicolas de Riviere, also lamented Mali’s withdrawal from the force, as did other UNSC members.

The force, which includes troops from Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, was formed in 2017 to counter armed groups who have swept across the region in recent years, killing thousands of people and forcing millions to flee their homes.

But it has been hobbled by a lack of funding and has struggled to reduce the violence.

Meanwhile, Mali’s withdrawal further isolates the country – which has been hit with sanctions by West Africa’s regional political bloc, impacting jobs and industry – on both the regional and global stage.

G5 Sahel: Chad urges Mali to stay

Brussels 22.05.2022 Chad’s interim president Mahamat Idriss Deby (pictured) has urged Mali’s military junta to reconsider its decision to withdraw from a five-nation military force – G5 Sahel – fighting Islamist militants in the region.

Malian authorities announced the decision on Sunday, May 22, blaming the lack of progress in the fight against militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIS) and the failure to hold recent meetings in Mali. G5 Sahel assembls troops from Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Chad and Niger.

Mali’s junta, which came to power in an August 2020 coup, has grown increasingly estranged from its West African neighbours after delaying elections aimed to restore democratic rule.

Chad’s Deby, the acting president of the G5 Sahel, said in a statement released on his behalf that the alliance was “an irreplaceable instrument of cooperation”.

“The acting president of the G5 Sahel exhorts the government of the Republic of Mali to reconsider its position in order to allow efforts underway … (to) provide a solution to its concerns through an imminent conference of heads of state and government,” the statement said.

Deby ascended to power by the military last year after the battlefield death of his father, President Idriss Deby. Nowadays he has faced less international criticism than Mali’s junta, which is embroiled in a dispute with France, the former colonial power and main military ally of regional forces.

France troops withdrawal from Mali

Brussels 17.02.2022 Ahead of the EU-Africa Union Summit President Macron announces French troops are withdrawing from Mali and will be stationed in other parts of the African region.
France and its allies in the long-term anti-jihadist operation in Mali have announced a “coordinated withdrawal” of their forces. A joint statement cited “multiple obstructions” by the country’s ruling “military junta”. (Image above: illustration).

Announcing the move during a Thursday news conference in Paris, Macron accused Mali’s ruling military junta of neglecting the fight against Islamic extremists and said it was logical for France to withdraw since its role is not to replace a sovereign state on the battlefield.

“Victory against terror is not possible if it’s not supported by the state itself,” the French leader said.
France has about 4,300 troops in the Sahel region, including 2,400 in Mali. The Barkhane anti-terrorist force is also involved in Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

Macron said the French withdrawal would be done “in an orderly manner” in coordination with the Malian military. France will start by closing military bases in the north of Mali, and the withdrawal will take between four or six months, he said.

EU additional €15M aid to Sahel

Brussels 23.12.2021 The EU has allocated €15 million in additional humanitarian funding to Africa’s Sahel region, in response to the unprecedented food crisis affecting more than 8.7 million people in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Mauritania.

Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said “Earlier this year, the EU reaffirmed its commitment to the Sahel region, and reiterated the importance of our partnership with the region. The additional humanitarian aid allocated today is an indication of our readiness to help meet the growing needs – and funding shortfalls – in Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, and provide assistance to the most vulnerable members of the population in the Sahel.”

The number of people suffering from the food crisis in Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali and Mauritania is at a record high compared to previous years and initial estimates point to a major food crisis during the 2022 lean season, the period between harvests that usually lasts from May to August. The World Food Programme (WFP) reports critical funding gaps affecting its ability to assist people during the lean season in the Sahel.

The funding announced today comes on top of €54 million already allocated this year to these four Sahel countries for food/nutrition. The additional funds allocated by the EU will contribute to scaling up life-saving assistance for the most vulnerable people in need, mainly people affected by conflict and insecurity and those forced to flee their homes. This funding will address most acute needs in food and nutrition and will contribute to an early response to reduce the impact of a major humanitarian crisis in 2022.

Humanitarian needs in the Sahel region (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Nigeria) are rising due to increasingly violent conflicts, deep poverty, climate change, and unprecedented food insecurity and malnutrition. In addition to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, weak health systems are increasingly strained, and humanitarian needs are growing.

In 2021, the EU allocated a total of €237.4 million to the Sahel. Part of this funding has been used to help tackle the food crisis in the region, now in its fourth consecutive year, mainly affecting people in conflict-hit areas. EU humanitarian assistance supports people affected by conflict and insecurity, providing them with shelter, emergency food and nutritional aid, access to health care and clean water, to treatment for malnourished children, and protection for the vulnerable. In addition, EU funding ensures safe access to education for the children affected by armed conflicts.

In 2021, prior to the allocation of this additional funding, the funding allocated to these four countries for food/nutrition was:

– Burkina Faso:€19.7 million

– Mali:€15 million

– Mauritania:€6.9 million

– Niger:€12.3 million

CHAD President Idriss Déby perished

Brussels 20.04.2021 #BREAKING: Chad’s President Idriss Déby has died suddenly in clashes with rebels in the north of the country close to Niger border. His death came shortly after provisional election results projected he would win a sixth term in office, with 80% of the vote.
Déby was reportedly wounded on the battlefield on Sunday, April 18, and was then flown to the capital 400km way by helicopter.
According to rebel leader Mahamat Ali, #IdrissDeby was in combat on Sunday and Monday, near Nokou, close to Niger border. After Deby had fallen slain at the battlefield he was evacuated to Ndjamena. Tanks were deployed around the palace. Déby was to speak at the Place de la Nation on Monday, April 19 but failed to attend.

According to a confirmation from the national army of Chad read on national television, the newly re-elected President Idriss Déby has died of wounds he received while commanding his army in battles against rebels in the north.

In a swift change of fate, after news had come in that Chad’s veteran president, Idriss Déby had won a sixth term, by 79.3%, in the latest provisional results in on Monday, an announcement broadcast on national television today has announced his death.

The latest clashes began on Saturday, April 17. An army general said that 300 insurgents were killed and 150 were captured. Five government soldiers were killed and 36 were injured, he said. The figures could not immediately be verified.

Burkina Faso: 14 soldiers killed in ambush

Brussels, 13.11.2020 At least 14 soldiers perished and eight others were wounded in an ambush against a military convoy in Burkina Faso, the government said late Thursday.
The incident occurred on Wednesday along the Tinakof-Beldiabe road in Burkina Faso’s northern province of Oudalan.
“A unit of the Tin-Akoff military detachment in the province of Oudalan, Sahel region fell into an ambush on Wednesday perpetrated by a group of terrorists, killing 14 and eight wounded, three of whom were serious,” Communication Minister Remis Dandjinou said.

The Minister said defense and security forces engaged in search operations to track down the perpetrators of the attack.

“I am suspending my campaign for 48 hours in order to sympathise with the entire Nation and particularly the #FDS (The Burkina Faso Armed Forces ) at the disappearance of our brave Soldiers. May they rest in peace!” wrote Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, the former Prime-Minister and the candidate for the presidency.

Last month, unknown assailants attacked a village in northern Burkina Faso, killing at least 24 people, leaving another 18 injured in the attack, the number of kidnapped remained unknown.

SAHEL: EU mobilises €238M

Brussels 09.10.2020 This Monday, November 9, 2020, the Mauritanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Mauritanians Abroad, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, co-chaired with the High Representative, Josep Borrell, the 6th G5 ministerial meeting Sahel-EU.

Two points were on the agenda of the discussions: the follow-up to the commitments made since the meeting between the leaders of the European Union and the Heads of State of the G5 Sahel of April 28, 2020 within the framework of the Coalition for the Sahel ; and an exchange on the new Sahel strategy of the European Union.

On the first point, the two parties welcomed the European Union’s commitment beyond the additional 194 million euros announced in April, in support of the security-development nexus: in total, nearly 238 million euros have already been mobilised for projects in the field of stabilisation of the most vulnerable regions (security and resilience). The two parties also recalled that the European mission to support the Malian defence forces (EUTM Mali) can now gradually expand its training in Burkina Faso and also in Niger. The establishment of the P3S secretariat by the EU should allow increased and coordinated support to the security and stability capacity of the G5 countries.

The G5 Sahel Ministers reaffirmed the determination of their Governments to pursue their efforts in the fields of security and development, in particular with regard to the delivery of basic services to the populations and respect for human rights and of international humanitarian law by the security and defense forces. The continuation of the ongoing investigations into the suspected cases of abuse is fundamental in this context.

With regard to the fight against Covid-19, the European Union, in Team Europe format, recalled the actions taken to redirect 449 million euros to provide medical equipment, finance awareness campaigns, and accelerate budget support disbursements to address the economic and social consequences of the pandemic. A total of 92 million euros will be disbursed today for Chad, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger, to support the implementation of plans to respond to the pandemic, without worsening debt levels .

Underlining the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the already fragile balances existing in the Sahel, the Foreign Ministers of the G5 Sahel once again called for a total cancellation of the debt of the G5 Sahel countries and for the mobilisation of resources financial resources to help restart the economies of the Sahel. The two sides agreed to continue international efforts to reduce debt and access international sources of finance in a coordinated manner within the relevant multilateral frameworks.

Insisting on the need to find lasting solutions to the crisis, the EU and the G5 welcomed the organization of a conference on the central Sahel on October 20, during which the EU announced an additional contribution of 43 million euros, to help the more than 13 million people in need of humanitarian aid in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

On the second point, the meeting also provided an opportunity to discuss the ongoing review of the European Union’s Sahel strategy. The EU top diplomat underlined that the European Union would remain one of the main partners of the G5 Sahel States but that this partnership will henceforth be more demanding, the contribution of the European Union, however important it may be, only support the strong political will of the G5 Sahel States. From this perspective, the focus will be more on achieving results and implementing reforms aimed at strengthening governance.

The Foreign Ministers of the G5 Sahel welcomed the continued European engagement in the Sahel. The Ministers hoped that European and international support would come in support of local initiatives and in a coordinated manner between the various partners. As such, they are delighted to see the European Union involving them in the review of its Sahel strategy.

In conclusion, the High Representative and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the G5 Sahel welcomed the holding of the next meeting between the Heads of State of the G5 Sahel and the President of the European Council on November 30, 2020.

Mali: last French hostage liberated

Brussels 09.10.2020 AMENDED: First images of Mme.Sophie Pétronin, 75, from Bamako Airport, Mali, where she was embraced by her son Sebastian. At present her state of health is unknown, she appeared on video, released by her kidnappers very fragile.

Brussels 8.10.2020 The Presidency of the French Republic confirms the release of Mr. Soumaïla Cissé and Ms. Sophie Pétronin. The ex-hostages are on their way to Bamako”, writes the presidency of Mali on his Twitter account.

The last French hostage in the world, Ms.Sophie Pétronin, captive since December 2016 in the Sahel, and Malian opponent Soumaïla Cissé are free and on their way to Bamako, the Malian presidency announced Thursday evening.

Two Italian hostages, Nicola Chiacchio and missionary Pier Luigi Maccalli, who were also detained in the north of the country, the scene of a jihadist insurgency, were also released, the presidency of Mali announced later in the evening in a statement. read on national television.

In Paris, Emmanuel Macron said in a statement released by the Elysee Palace that he had learned “with immense relief” of the release of Sophie Pétronin.

“Happy to know that she is free, he sends a message of sympathy to his family and loved ones,” the presidential statement continued. “The President of the Republic also welcomes the release on the same occasion of Mr. Soumaïla Cissé, Malian politician kidnapped six months ago.”

The head of state “particularly thanks the Malian authorities for this release. He assures them of France’s entire will to support Mali in the fight it is waging with perseverance against terrorism in the Sahel ”.

Aged 75, Sophie Pétronin, who headed a small Franco-Swiss NGO helping malnourished children, was kidnapped on December 24, 2016 in Gao, in northern Mali.

In a video released in June 2018 – the most recent – she appeared very tired and challenged Emmanuel Macron, believing that the head of state had “forgotten” her.

In November of the same year, his captors had issued a press release stating a “deterioration of his health” and blamed the French government for which, according to them, “stubbornness” “prevented” the closure of this. “case”.

On April 1, we learned that the French authorities had “proof of life” from Sophie Pétronin dating back to “early March”, according to her son, Sébastien Chadaud-Pétronin.

The latter had left for Bamako on Tuesday in the hope of his mother’s release soon.

“I’ve been saying I believe it for four years and I’m a big liar because there are a bunch of times I didn’t believe it. And then there, I could not believe it any more “, he reacted Thursday evening at the microphone of France Info.

“I can’t even realize it yet, I think I haven’t realized yet. She’s on the plane. There is now a bunch of odds that we meet again, I think we can tell, ”he added, his voice filled with emotion.

Popular opponent Soumaïla Cissé, who was finance minister between 1993 and 2000, was kidnapped in March while campaigning in the Timbuktu region in the north of the country.

Reportedly two hundred jihadists were liberated as a part of a deal to liberate Mme.Pétronin, and Mr.Cissé.

Mali suffocated by ECOWAS

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) continues the imperative demands to the military commanders supported by Malians who assended power by coup d’état, to ensure a “rapid” return of civilian rule. The Republic of Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou on September 7 at the opening of ‘a summit of the ECOWAS in Niamey once again has underlined the major request for a clear timetable, ensuring the transition of power to the civilans.

“It is the duty of our community to assist the Malians with a view to the rapid reestablishment of all democratic institutions. The military junta must help us to help Mali”, affirmed Mr. Issoufou, also current president of the ECOWAS.

“Other strategic partners of the Malian people have the same hope,” he insisted.

President Issoufou recalled that the ECOWAS had “taken sanctions and asked the military junta to return to the barracks (…) and the establishment of a transition, lasting a maximum of 12 months, led by civilians “.

However the talks conducted by the ECOWAS are not reduced to verbal promotion of the democratic demands, the regional orgainsation has decided to close all its borders with Mali and block all the economic and financial transactions, launching a total blockade of the landlocked country.

As consequence even Mali neighbours started to doubt the effectiness of this drastic measure of the West African politicians, causing immense damage to Malians, already being listed among the poorest nations in the world. In Ayorou, a Nigerien town close to the border, residents are worried about the consequences of this closure, Radio RFI reports.

The residents of Ayorou are seeing short, medium and long term damages of the ECOWAS blocade because exchanges with neighboring Mali are essential for the city, especially concerning the supply of food products for the large Sunday market.

“There are the foodstuffs that they export, there is also tea, sugar and pasta. So really, if the borders are closed, we can say that the prices of the products will increase” the inhabitants of Ayorou complain.

Another consequence for the locals in the closing of the borders is damaging the travel between the various family members on the outskirts of Mali.

“If I wanted to visit family in villages on the border, for example in Koutougou which is around or eight kilometers from the border, it is a problem because the police do not accept the passage of vehicles” the local residents explain.

However the major concern is in absence of clarity for the future, how long will this devastaing for local population strategy last. The food shortages among neighboring countries, depending on Mali exports, are just part of the problem caused by the ECOWAS borders shut down. Nowadays the situaiton of the Malian population enters a dramatic stage of food insecurity, which has been a considerable problem for the internaitonal community, attempting to assist and provide humanitarian aid for the population, ensuring their human rights, namely right to life.

Escalating violence and insecurity in Mali have sparked an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, rendering 3.9 million people in need of assistance and protection – an increase of 700,000 since the beginning of the year, the UN said in December 2019.

Mali has been the scene of perpetual conflict and displacement for nearly eight years, when in January 2012, tensions in the marginalized north came to a head as rebels took over almost one-third of the country. A peace agreement signed in 2015 between the complex web of warring groups, has failed in implementation.

The report notes that eight years after the onset of the political crisis that has destabilized Mali, “the international community remains heavily focused on stabilization and counterterrorism, at times to the detriment of the worsening humanitarian situation.”

While insurgent violence in the north rages on, anti-Government elements have spread south into central Mali, where they have inflamed intercommunal tensions.

Some 70% of the people affected live in the conflict regions of Mopti, Timbuktu and Gao.

Throughout the year, UN and humanitarian partners have assisted about 900,000 people with food assistance and in 2020, the Humanitarian Response Plan seeks $365.6 million to assist nearly three million in urgent need.

While the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has restored some degreed of peace and government control there, the country’s northern and central regions remain trapped in cycles of violence.

The UN report (2019) has concluded that there is no purely military solution to the country’s crisis.

Although international humanitarian aid must be strengthened, Mali’s citizens also require a government willing and able to meet the needs of its people and address grievances at the root of the conflict while implementing the terms of the peace agreement in a timely and transparent fashion.

“The real war will be won by whoever wins over the population. And for now, the state is perceived to not even be trying”, said one of the UN representatives quoted in the report.

So fare the EU diplomacy has not expressed its position towards the ECOWAS strategy blocade of Mali trade, and finance.

“The decision to close borders by ECOWAS countries was undertaken on volonuraly basis” said the European Extenal Action Service spokesperson, while commenting on the issue.

France to pursue Barkhane operation in Sahel

France will pursue its military counter terrorist operations in Mali against Islamist insurgence despite the ousting of the country’s President two days ago by a coup d’état, the French armed force minister Florence Parly announced.

“The Barkhane operation, asked for by the Mali population and authorised by the U.N. Security Council, continues,” Florence Parly wrote on her offical Twitter micro blog.

Barkahne is an ongoing anti-insurgent operation which started six years ago (August 1, 2014), and is led by the French military against Islamist militiants in Sahel region. At present France located around 5 000 miliatry there, under operational command of headquarts in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad.

“Barkhane brought a remarkable tactics success, but it has not reached the strategic victory yet” said the French military expert Arnaud Danjean in his recent interview to Le Figaro newspaper.

The operation is lead in cooperation with five countries, and former French colonies, which has entered new partnership with a former metropol: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.These countries are collectively referred to as the “G5 Sahel”. A crescent-shaped dune in the Sahara desert named Barkhane became the name of this military mission.

There are aslo around 100 Estonian troops focus on protection for the Barkhane base, undertaking checkpoints, providing escorts and conducting patrols. The need for strengthinging vigilance was put forward in 2019, when troops thwarted a suicide car bomb and gun attack at the Gao camp. Six Estonian personnel were injured in the incident.

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