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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Tuggar raises alarm over deteriorating insecurity in the Sahel

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By Bashir Aliyu

Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honorable Yusuf Maitama Tuggar has raised an alarm over a steep rise in terrorist attacks in the Sahel region which has witnessed relentless attacks from insurgents and terrorist groups since Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger Republic since saw a series of military coups in 2023.

Speaking at the 52nd Session of the ECOWAS Security and Mediation Council at the ministerial level, Honourable Tuggar said painted a dire picture of the worsening insecurity that claimed thousands of lives.

“The statistics from the ECOWAS Early Warning and Response Network (ECOWARN) paint a sobering picture. Between January and May 2024, our region has witnessed over 7,000 deaths as a result of more than 800 terrorist incidents. Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali have been particularly devastated by this relentless violence. This stark reality highlights the staggering human cost of insecurity, and underscores the urgency for a coordinated and decisive action to combat this menace.” Mr. Tuggar said.

The minister also called for more concerted efforts from the ECOWAS member-states to do more in order to stem the tide of terrorism in the Sahel because according to the minister, the insecurity in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger could spill over to the neighbouring countries with devastating effects.

“Terrorism does not recognise borders. From the Sahel to the coastal States, no country is immune to its devastating impact. It is therefore crucial for every country within ECOWAS, including those in the Sahelian belt, to understand that the fight against terrorism is not the burden of a few but a collective responsibility. Therefore, we must remain united, and demonstrate unwavering commitment and resolve to safeguard the lives and futures of our citizens.” Tuggar added.

Also speaking on the underlying causes of the instability in the Sahel, Honorable Tuggar pointed out that migration, climate change and transnational criminal networks are fanning the flames of instability in the region.

“As we join forces to find common solutions to the continuing challenge of violent extremism and foreign interference,
we should also remain mindful of the broader challenge of cooperation to help tackle the underlying causes of instability in our region: climate change, migration, organized criminal activity, global terms of trade and access to financing. Our task today is to consider how best to meet the immediate symptoms of the condition we face – and also how to establish firmer foundations to reduce inequality and poverty and strengthen democracy.”

The minister also highlighted the enormous roles the ECOWAS Member-States are playing to supports various mission being undertaken by the ECOWAS, citing Gambia, Guinea Bissau, stating that these among other efforts, are critical to its counterterrorism efforts in the region.

“Despite the challenges that confront our region, ECOWAS has continued to sustain its peace support operations in some Member States, including the ECOWAS Stabilisation Support Mission in GuineaBissau (SSMGB) and the ECOWAS Mission in The Gambia (ECOMIG), as well as the ongoing plans for the deployment of an ECOWAS Stabilisation Mission in Sierra Leone, given recent developments there. In this regard we will receive a detailed briefing on the Operationalisation of the ECOWAS Security Architecture, focusing on the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF), including a progress report on the
ECOWAS logistics depot in Lungi, Sierra Leone, and the outcome of the just concluded meeting of Ministers of Defence and Finance, convened to discuss financing options for the operationalisation of the ECOWAS Counter-Terrorism Force,” added the minister.

Finally, the minister called on the Member-States to up their efforts in order to make sure West Africa remains united and stable.

“In conclusion, I urge us all to redouble our efforts in this collective endeavour, and stand together, united against the forces
of terror and despair, while striving to build a West Africa that is secure, stable, and thriving for all its citizens.”

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