West Africa: G5 Sahel Force Still Limping

Some 5,000 troops from Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad, which make up the G5 Sahel force meant to fight terrorism in the five Sahel countries, is yet to effectively kick-start operations, though its launch last year raised much hopes about containing insecurity in the region.

Radio France International, RFI on September 27, 2018 recalled that while the wait continues, terrorist attacks in the Sahel countries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have in recent months witnessed an upsurge. Though the threat is real and urgency absolute, G5 Sahel has not yet been able to defend the region as expected because of want of financial means, RFI said.

On the first anniversary of its launch on July 1, 2018, the force’s headquarters in the Malian town of Sévaré was struck by a deadly terrorist attack. The consequence was the replacement of G5 Sahel’s Malian-born Commander, Gen. Didier Dacko, by a Mauritanian officer, Gen. Hanea Ould Sidi. Yet, this has not ended the woes of the force as troops are yet to receive their entire budget for the first year.

Though an international donor conference in Brussels, Belgium last February raised 414 million Euros (271.5 billion FCFA) to support the operations of G5 Sahel, the money is yet to trickle down to the troops because of complex disbursement procedures by different donor countries and organisations.

It is in this regard that a stakeholders’ meeting on the Sahel held in New York, USA on September 26, 2018 on the sidelines of the 73rd General Assembly of the United Nations. UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, insisted on the need for “a robust mandate and sustainable funding” for G5 Sahel.

According to Frederica Mogherini, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Vice President of the EU Commission, ensuring stable financing for the force is an “absolute priority.”

African Union Commission Chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat, warned that the consequences of any security lapses in the Sahel “will spread far beyond the region.” A Chadian minister at the New York meeting insisted that resolving the problem of insecurity in the Sahel must begin with the situation in Libya where arms and drug trafficking have become commonplace.

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