Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa in the Ministries of Political issues and peace-building and Peace activitiessaid the Joint Force was established in 2017 by the “G5” heads of state – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger – to fight terrorism in the “confrontational” Sahel.
However, challenging political and security dynamics in the Sahel – and the uncertain outcome of the transition in Mali and especially Burkina Faso – have slowed Joint Forces activities. The G5 Sahel, meanwhile, has not convened a high-level political meeting since November 2021, while its Defense and Security Committee has not met for more than six months.
Thanks to General Oumar Bikimo, the Joint Force has been able to carry out operations in all three of its areas since the Council last met in November, despite the absence of Malian battalions, she said. .
How Mali’s decision to leave the G5 and Joint Forces will affect regional dynamics remains to be seen. “It’s definitely a step backwards for Sahel,” she said.
UN photo / Ekinder Debebe
MINUSMA in hand
For its part, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) will continue to provide support to the Common Force as long as that force is authorized to do so by the Council. It has been working with contractors to provide life support consumables to survivors and will honor requests received by four other employees outside of Mali.
The cycle of radicalization
“Protecting the most vulnerable is more important than ever,” she stressed.
She cited reports of serious violations against civilians – by armed terrorist groups, as well as armed and security forces.
To be sure, she said, rooting out terrorist groups with hatred or deep roots in the community is a “unique challenge” in the Sahel, making counter-terrorism operations extremely difficult to carry out. .
But if civilians fall victim to these groups, “these efforts will be in vain.” Terrorist activities cause incalculable human suffering, seriously erode trust in the State and promote radicalization.
Time to rethink
“Maybe it’s time we rethink our approach and change the way we do our jobs,” she added. “We need innovative approaches in the face of the ever-evolving tactics of terrorist groups, whose influence is constantly expanding.”
She noted that over the past five years, the international community, donors and partners have been trying to reach consensus on the most effective support mechanism for a collective security response in the Sahel.
And a lack of consensus persists – despite all acknowledging that the terrorist attack in the Sahel constitutes a life-and-death, slow-burning threat to international peace and security.
A holistic approach is needed now more than ever
“Action is now more urgent than ever,” she said.
She calls for a holistic approach that celebrates “political primacy”, addresses the causes of poverty and exclusion, and brings opportunity and fullness of life to many young people in the region. .
She said that the African Union Commission and the United Nations Secretariat will jointly undertake a strategic review of security and governance initiatives in the Sahel, with the goal of increasing support for the G5-Sahel, Joint Forces and other regional security and governance initiatives.