Briefing Security Council on Joint Force for Sahel, Secretary General Urges Innovative International Actions to Keep Region from ‘Sinking into Chaos’

Innovative actions would be needed to support the Joint Force of the Group of Five for the Sahel (Sahel G-5) countries (Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Niger) as well as development efforts, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council this morning, stressing that the situation in that region was a challenge for all.

Underlining that prevention was his priority, he said that in the Sahel, that meant preventing the region from sinking into chaos. Addressing the high level Council meeting on ways in which the international community could support the Joint Force of the Sahel G-5, he said under development and climate change had contributed to the humanitarian and security crises in the region. Weak institutions, exclusion and marginalization of certain groups were exploited by extremists and terrorists. Porous borders facilitated human trafficking, as well as arms and drugs smuggling and other criminal activities.

Warning that there was a risk of spillover which would have grave consequences for the region and beyond, he said he had presented the Council with several options. Notable among those, the United Nations could quickly mobilize support to complement the efforts of the bilateral partners. The joint force and MINUSMA would be complimentary, he said, but added that only a comprehensive implementation of the peace agreement could bring stability. He had also presented recommendations to provide political guidance to the joint force, such as monitoring and support mechanisms, and had urged for respect of human rights. Only a multidimensional response would bring stability.

Abdoulaye Diop, Mali’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said the menace to security was being faced by the Sahel countries but it was also a challenge that must be shared with the world due to its causes, its manifestations and its impact on international security. It required a collective response. He emphasized that the creation of the joint force aimed to complement the work of MINUSMA and the Operation Barkhane French force.

Affirming the determination of the Sahel G-5 countries to operationalize the joint force, he said that despite challenges, much headway had been made with the support of the African Union partners. He stressed that to reach full deployment of the joint force by the March 2018 deadline, robust international support would be needed. Thanking European countries that had pledged assistance, he called on all bilateral and multilateral partners to participate in the December conference in Brussels on the security and development of the Sahel and to pledge further assistance for the specific needs of the joint force and for addressing root causes of insecurity in the region.

Thanking the Secretary General for laying out options that would be a good basis for support, he pointed to the first option, a Security Council-mandated United Nations support package and called on the Council to act in that regard. Our five chiefs of State have played their part in providing the resources necessary for the deployment of the joint force of the G-5 Sahel as a regional response to transnational threats We hope that the Security Council equally takes up its principal responsibility and acts on the Secretary General’s recommendations, he said.

African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said the Sahel G-5 countries had demonstrated their determination to tackle the challenges confronting them and the international community was duty bound to support them and in doing so would also be acting in its own interest as the threat in the region did not recognize borders.

He hoped the Council would provide concrete content to the idea of prevention, as the threat could take a broader scale if not dealt with now. In the face of the terrorist threat and the risk to the region, half measures would not be sufficient. He said the joint force must go hand in hand with the implementation of the Malian peace process.

Angel Losada Fernandez, Special Representative for the Sahel of the European Union, said that the security of the African region was critical for the entire globe, but it would not be able to hold unless the Malian peace agreement was implemented by all the parties. He welcomed the efforts of the Heads of State in the region, noting the immediate response of the European Union for support. European aid had always, in addition, recognized the security development nexus, he said and emphasized the need to ensure the respect for human rights in all security operations.

The Brussels conference, he said, would provide an opportunity to scale up the joint force and ensure an adequate civilian component. The Union had already established financial institutions to receive and distribute the support necessary.

Speakers at the Ministerial level of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Niger also addressed the Council, echoing Mali’s request for support of the joint force and stressing that the threat in the Sahel was a threat to international peace and security of the world. Ibrahim Yacoubou, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation, African Integration and Nigerians Abroad of Niger, said the war must be taken to the narco terrorists. Merely defensive measures by MINUSMA were not sufficient. For the joint force to be effective in taking the fight to the enemy, action must be taken now, in the form of full support to the force. If action were delayed, terrorists could become too entrenched in the region.

Jean Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France and Council President for the month, said terrorist groups in the Sahel represented a global threat, which was financed by drug trafficking and human trafficking. The joint force should be provided with the necessary support so that it could expand its counter terrorism capacity. Bilateral support was crucial, he said, but multilateral aid was also necessary. The Council should support the operational capacity of the joint force and must assess the options available. All efforts, however, implied full implementation of the peace agreement in Mali, he stressed.

Council members agreed that the terrorist threat in the Sahel was a threat to international peace and security. They welcomed the initiative of the Sahel G 5 countries, and called for multilateral and bilateral support. They stressed that all operations should adhere to international human rights and humanitarian law and underlined the importance of development in the region.

Discussing the modalities of support, the representative of the United States expressed reservations about tasking MINUSMA with support to the joint force. In addition, she said her country was reticent to allow the United Nations to support non Organizational activities. The bilateral support of her country to the joint force, she added, would be tailored to the needs on the ground.

Italy’s representative emphasized the added value of multilateral support, which, he said, was the only way to establish a framework of support that could also take stock of bilateral contributions at the same time.

The representative of the Russian Federation, noting that the regime change in Libya had resulted in a wave of insecurity in the region, called for robust international support for the joint force, as well as for capacity building for the countries of the region and full implementation the United Nations comprehensive strategy for the Sahel.

Speakers also stressed the need to address the root causes of the terrorist threat and international criminal activities in the region, mentioning under development and drought as a consequence of climate change.

The representative of Bolivia noted that the fall out of the intervention in Libya had destabilized the Sahel region. Another factor contributing to the situation was the region’s illegal exploitation of natural resources, he said.

Speakers paid tribute to the three Chadian peacekeepers of MINUSMA who died on 24 October and their injured colleagues and commended their courage and devotion to bring peace and security to Mali.

Also speaking were ministers and other senior officials and representatives of Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Ethiopia, Senegal, Egypt, Kazakhstan, China, Japan, Uruguay, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania.

The meeting started at 10:10 a.m. and adjourned at 1:15 p.m.

Briefings

ANTA�NIO GUTERRES, Secretary General of the United Nations, said the situation in the Sahel was a challenge for all. Under development and climate change had contributed to the humanitarian and security crises in the region. Weak institutions, exclusion and marginalization of certain groups were exploited by extremists and terrorists. Porous borders facilitated human trafficking, as well as arms and drugs smuggling and other criminal activities. The recent deadly attacks against gendarmes from Niger and United States troops, and the continuous attacks against security forces of Mali, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) Blue Helmets and the soldiers of Operation Barkhane underlined the security threats. Some 5 million people were displaced and 24 million needed humanitarian aid. Millions of children in the Sahel region did not have access to health care and did not go to school.

He said there was a need for innovative actions to support the Joint Force of the Group of Five for the Sahel (Sahel G 5) countries as well as development efforts. The creation of the joint force had demonstrated the will of the Sahel countries to cooperate. He supported those countries’ appeal to have a force with a mandate in line with the confronted threats and with stable financing. There was a risk of spillover which would have serious consequences for the region and beyond.

He said he had presented to the Council four options. The United Nations could quickly mobilize support to complement the efforts of the bilateral partners. The joint force and MINUSMA would be complimentary, he said, but added that only a comprehensive implementation of the peace agreement could bring stability. The decision was up to the Council. The support to the joint force would also be part of the strategic partnership to strengthen the African response to crises.

The Sahel G 5 had defined specific goals and had made remarkable progress in achieving them, he said. Certain aspects, however, needed to be fine tuned. He had presented recommendations to provide political guidance to the joint force, such as monitoring and support mechanisms, and had urged for respect of human rights. It was essential to define modalities for cross border prosecutions and detentions. Although security cooperation with the Sahel countries was essential, he said only a multidimensional response would bring stability. He had instructed the Deputy Secretary General to coordinate efforts. In December, he would present an investment strategy for the region at the Brussels conference.

He said only an effective strengthening of the rule of law would guarantee continuity of the rule of law. Prevention was his priority, the Secretary-General said, and in the Sahel that meant preventing the region from sinking in chaos.

He paid tribute to the three Chadian Blue Helmets of MINUSMA who died on 24 October and their injured colleagues and commended their courage and devotion to bring peace and security to Mali.

ABDOULAYE DIOP, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Mali, thanked the Security Council and the entire United Nations for its engagement in the security and development of the Sahel region. Welcoming the analysis and recommendations in the Secretary General’s report, he said that the meeting was taking place at an appropriate time because the region was still suffering greatly from terrorism and other forms of international organized crime. Such menace to security was being faced by the Sahel countries but it was also a challenge that must be shared with the world due to its causes, its manifestations and its impact on international security. It required a collective response.

He emphasized that the creation of the joint force by his country and the other Sahel G 5 members aimed to complement the work of the other forces in the region, notably MINUSMA and the Operation Barkhane French force. Coordination mechanisms between such forces were therefore envisaged. He pledged efforts to ensure that the force respected human rights in all its activities.

Affirming the determination of the Sahel G 5 countries to operationalize the force, he said that despite many challenges, much headway had already been made with the support of the African Union partners. Those included the opening and functioning of a headquarters in Sevare in Mali and the command post in Niamey in Niger. Work was also underway for the establishment of command posts for the eastern sector in Wour, Chad and for the western sector in N’beiket in Mauritania. With the mobilization of necessary troops and equipment by Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, the first cross-border operations would soon begin. To reach full deployment of the joint force by the March 2018 deadline, robust international support would be needed. The budget of Euros 423 million was developed through a realistic evaluation of the objectives and needs of the joint force.

Thanking European countries that had pledged assistance, he called on all bilateral and multilateral partners to participate in the international meeting on the security and development of the Sahel planned for December in Brussels and to pledge further assistance both for the specific needs of the joint force and for addressing root causes of insecurity in the region. Thanking the Secretary General for laying out options that would be a good basis for support, he pointed to the first option, a Security Council-mandated United Nations support package. He called on the Council to take action in that regard. Our five chiefs of State have played their part in providing the resources necessary for the deployment of the joint force of the G-5 Sahel as a regional response to transnational threats We hope that the Security Council equally takes up its principal responsibility and acts on the Secretary General’s recommendations, he said.

MOUSSA FAKI MAHAMAT, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, addressing the Council via video conference, said today’s meeting demonstrated the growing attention of the international community for the situation unfolding in the Sahel region. The G-5 Sahel countries had clearly demonstrated their determination to tackle the challenges confronting them and the international community was duty bound to support them and in doing so would also be acting in its own interest as the threat in the region did not recognize borders. The efforts of the United Nations could give the regional actions essential legitimacy and could combine the efforts of the G-5 Sahel and MINUSMA.

He said it was essential to provide multilateral and bilateral coherent assistance. The African Union welcomed adoption of resolution 2359 (2017) in which the Council had endorsed the deployment of the joint force and he commended the powerful gesture of the Council visit to the Sahel countries. He hoped the Council would provide concrete content to the idea of prevention, as the threat could take a broader scale if not dealt with now. In the face of the terrorist threat and the risk to the region, half measures would not be sufficient. The Union endorsed the appeal of the Secretary General to the Council to be ambitious because sustainable financial support would contribute to the region’s stability.

He said the joint force must go hand in hand with the implementation of the Malian peace process. Although progress had been achieved in that regard, the conclusion of the peace agreement would make it possible to isolate terrorist groups. To end criminal and terrorist groups required sustained efforts in development and governance as well. He encouraged the Sahel countries to persevere in their efforts.

ANGEL LOSADA FERNANDEZ, Special Representative for the Sahel of the European Union, said that the security of the Sahel was critical for the entire globe, but it would not be able to hold unless the Malian peace agreement was implemented by all the parties. He paid tribute to all those who had been working for peace there, including those who had given their lives. Welcoming, in addition, progress in deploying the Sahel G 5 joint force, he encouraged further efforts, particularly in explaining its purpose to the local population. Listing the multiple challenges faced in the Sahel, he welcomed the efforts of the heads of State in the region, noting the immediate response of the European Union for support, some of which had already been pledged. European aid had always, in addition, recognized the security development nexus, he said and all requests for support were being examined. He emphasized the need to ensure the respect for human rights in all security operations.

The Brussels conference planned for December, he said, would provide an opportunity to scale up the force and ensure an adequate civilian component. The Union had already established financial institutions to receive and distribute the support necessary. He trusted that solidarity and common sense would elicit further support and make the conference successful. We’re not working for Africa, but with Africa, he said, quoting other officials.

Statements

JEAN YVES LE DRIAN, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, and Security Council President for the month of October, said terrorist groups in the Sahel represented a global threat, which was financed by drug trafficking and human trafficking. Those groups were determined to spread terrorism across the region. The situation had also a direct impact on several countries beyond the Sahel and required a strong and coordinated response of the United Nations. The joint force established by neighbouring States deserved support as they sought to expand its regional efforts. They should be provided with the necessary support so that it could rapidly expand its counter terrorism capacity.

He said bilateral support for the joint force was crucial and he hoped that the December Brussels conference would generate concrete and significant pledges. Multilateral aid was also necessary, however. The Council should support the operational capacity of the joint force and must assess the options available. Logistical support of MINUSMA was also necessary. Support could be implemented without going beyond the Mission’s mandate. Such support must be provided before the Brussels conference, he said, and support for development in the region should also be provided. All efforts, however, implied full implementation in the peace agreement in Mali.

MARGOT WALLSTROM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, stressed that the full implementation of the Mali peace agreement must remain a priority, especially with the upcoming election. Underscoring the issue of inclusivity, she recalled the recent Security Council visit to that country where they met with women civil society representatives who said they didn’t want access to politicians; they wanted to become decision makers in their own right, equal to men. The Council’s continued engagement with the Sahel G 5 joint force should be guided by an overarching political framework. Because success of the force would depend on support from the populations, a solid human rights compliance framework would be of utmost importance towards restoring trust in State institutions and preventing further radicalization. As well, calls for regional ownership must be matched with adequate resources, along with predictable and sustainable support from the United Nations for the force. Those elements were critical for peace, which she emphasized was best pursued in partnership.

NIKKI HALEY (United States) applauded all those serving with the varied forces operating in the Sahel and paid tribute to all those who had lost loved ones, including those from her country. She affirmed that the threats being faced by the Sahel G 5 were daunting, noting that, in addition to terrorism, organized crime had also proliferated. She welcomed, therefore, the initiative of the Sahel G 5 to deploy the joint force and assured them of her country’s intention to provide bilateral support, announcing up to $60 million in such assistance. She emphasized the need for the joint force to collaborate with other forces operating in the region but urged the countries involved to retain local ownership at the same time. Expressing reservations about tasking MINUSMA with support to the joint force, she said that the United Nations operation was already labouring to accomplish its mandated tasks in supporting the Malian peace process. In addition, her country was reticent to allow the United Nations to support non Organizational activities. The bilateral support of her country to the joint force, she added, would be tailored to the needs on the ground. Signalling her country’s participation in the Brussels conference for that purpose, she welcomed the efforts of the Sahel G 5 to take ownership of peace and security in their region.

SERGIY KYSLYTSYA, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, recalling the Council’s recent visit to the region, noted the impressive progress made so far with the joint force headquarters in Sevare and the command post in Niamey, despite limited resources. However, for the joint force to reach full operational capability, significant technical and financial resources were needed. While recognizing the primary responsibility of the Sahel G 5 countries in that matter, it was crucial for international partners to provide assistances. The upcoming donor’s conference in Brussels was an important initiative. Furthermore, the United Nations could play a role in supporting the joint force. While agreeing that MINUSMA could provide valuable targeted assistance to it, he pointed out that the Mission’s mandate would need to be adjusted accordingly. Nonetheless, that should not be done at the expense of the Mission’s ability to fulfil its primary directive.

TARIQ MAHMOOD AHMAD, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and United Nations at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, said Council members had seen the serious challenges facing the countries of the Sahel which represented a danger to the people of the region. There had been an increase in attacks in Mali, trafficking weapons, drugs and people. Describing national efforts to support projects in the region, he said the creation of the joint force was a step forward in countering terrorism and illegal migration. His country was further assessing bilateral support. Recognizing the challenges faced by the joint force, he said there must be a clear plan to deliver services alongside with security and compliance with human rights. His country was considering the complementary roles bilateral and multilateral support could deliver. He called upon the parties to the peace process in Mali to bring unity to the country. The peace process was at the heart of efforts to defeat terrorism and migration in the Sahel.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) underlined the importance of operationalizing the joint force with international support. Stressing that what happened in the region had implications for other countries, he said the Sahel G 5 countries had demonstrated their willingness to fight terrorism and transnational organized crime despite limited resources and their efforts must be supported. While appreciating bilateral support, he said what had been pledged so far fell far short of what was necessary to support the joint force for one year and he hoped the donor conference would mobilize additional support. Welcoming the various options the Secretary General had provided, he said the urgency of the matter could not be overestimated. He agreed on the complementarity of the joint force and MINUSMA and on the need to ensure inter operability. Close coordination of the Sahel G 5 countries with other actors was key to success.

SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy) said the security threats of terrorism and illegal trafficking had a devastating impact on an already fragile political situation and were a threat to the entire world, noting the devastating face of that situation on the shores of his country. Welcoming the establishment of the joint force with the support of the Council, he said much was needed to completely operationalize it. The Council should address the options provided by the Secretary-General and give the moral responsibility to give sizable support to the joint force, and ensure that in all operations human rights were upheld. He emphasized the added value of multilateral support, which, he said, was the only way to establish a framework of support that could also take stock of bilateral contributions at the same time. He stressed that efforts of the Sahel G 5 countries in the security sector must go hand in hand with development in the region.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), affirming that terrorism and transnational crime remained severe threats in the Sahel, said that such problems were a reminder of the risks of international intervention. The regime change in Libya had resulted in a wave of insecurity in the region. Welcoming the deployment of the joint force, he encouraged the continued and equal cooperation between the Sahel G 5 countries in bringing about its quickest as possible deployment. He also called for robust international support for the joint force, as well as for capacity building for the countries of the region and full implementation the United Nations comprehensive strategy for the Sahel. Terrorism was a collective threat that could only be met with collective action, he emphasized. He pledged his country’s support for that purpose in the Sahel region and beyond.

FODA� SECK (Senegal) thanking those assisting security efforts in the region, particularly France, affirmed that the situation in the Sahel remained alarming. Only a comprehensive and holistic response could address insecurity and its root causes there. Highlighting the transnational nature of the threats, he welcomed the joint response of the Sahel G 5. He called it one further plank of the joint initiatives being established in the region. As such, it must be seen in the light of initiatives in the Lake Chad Basin and must cooperate well with MINUSMA. The joint force could be very effective working together with such initiatives. The African Union must continue to play a key role in aligning them all.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt), affirming that the Sahel had become a haven for criminals and extremist groups, said that the Security Council had a legal and moral commitment to help the region deal with the threats. The problems were a direct result of changes in the region, including developments in Libya. He called the joint force the most sustainable means of facing the security threat in the Sahel, but added that international support was needed for the force as well as for development, through a balanced partnership in the region. For that purpose, the integrated strategy for the Sahel should be fully implemented. He pledged further support to the region both politically and through cooperation programmes.

YERLIK ALI (Kazakhstan), noting the challenges faced in the Sahel and paying tribute to those who had lost their lives to support peace there, welcomed the deployment of the joint force. He said it was a way to reinforce the efforts being made to bring about peace and security in the region by MINUSMA, the Malian national security forces and the other operations. He welcomed the determination of the Sahel G 5 to build up the joint force in a timely manner. As the effectiveness of the force depended on the provision of predictable and steady funding as well as political support, he commended the European Union and France for the funding already being provided, and called for further pledges through the December conference. Welcoming the Secretary General’s recommendations for assistance strategies, he stressed the need for a holistic response to the region, including through the integrated United Nations strategy. He stressed the necessity, in addition, for full implementation of the Malian peace process.

WU HAITAO (China), commending the joint force initiative of the Sahel G 5, said it was an important contribution to peace and security on the continent and an important component of African ownership of initiatives in the region. Support to the joint force should be provided with adequate consideration of regional leadership and the sovereignty of the countries involved. The international community should also work to reduce the impact of external factors in the regime and be careful of interventions such as the one pursued in Libya. Terrorism must be combatted effectively and universally under the principles of the United Nations Charter. Regional organizations were particularly important for that purpose. China was supporting Sahel countries to face their own challenges in their own way, and had already established a fund for the region. It would continue to assist countries of the region achieve security and development.

KORO BESSHO (Japan) emphasized that more focus was needed to address the root causes of conflict that continued to trouble Sahel countries. Those issues included chronic underdevelopment, insufficient local governance and State institutions, and the lack of education and job opportunities, particularly for youth who were then vulnerable to exploitation by terrorist and organized crime groups. Addressing those root causes required time and there were no shortcuts, he said, urging that efforts of the joint force include that focus. His country had provided approximately $1.3 billion in development and humanitarian assistance in the Sahel within the Tokyo International Conference on African Development. He also highlighted the March 2016 international ministerial conference on border management and border communities in the Sahel. The meeting resulted in the Bamako Declaration on cross border management, which called for development focused efforts in border communities, with an emphasis on youth and conflict prevention.

ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) said peacekeeping missions should not be mandated to carry out counter terrorism activities. The joint force was therefore an important initiative that would give MINUSMA more room to fully implement its mandate. With appropriate coordination, both forces could complement each other. The international community must stand shoulder to shoulder with the Sahel G 5 countries, something which was self evident and essential. It was essential, however, to have a monitoring and accountability function in compliance with international law. Terrorists delayed development, he said. To improve security it was important to implement policies on development and promotion of the rule of law, among other things, which would enable the Sahel countries to focus on their stability.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLA�Z (Bolivia), hailing the efforts of the Sahel G 5 countries, said deployment of the joint force would be the best tool to confront the challenges and would complement the work of MINUSMA. The root causes of the situation had to be addressed, he said, noting that the fall out of the intervention in Libya had destabilized the Sahel region. Another factor contributing to the situation was the illegal exploitation of the region’s natural resources. The effects of drought and climate change had also their effect on the region. The security situation in the Sahel posed challenges to the entire international community. Sustainable financial support for the joint force must be guaranteed. Cooperation at the multilateral level should be channelled through the United Nations.

ALPHA BARRY, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Burkinabe abroad of Burkina Faso, noted that more than 1,000 children in the border area with Mali could not go to school because of terrorist threats. Teachers were terrified as some of their colleagues had been killed. All regions along Mali’s border had been affected, he said, and terrorist groups enjoyed the freedom to engage in international crimes, trafficking in weapons, drugs and people. The security challenge faced was a global one. He said that protecting his country also meant protecting other countries in West Africa, including Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Benin.

He said a regional solution was the only way to address the situation, and that was why a joint force had been established. That force was complementary to MINUSMA. His country, while trying to combat the threat, had limited resources. Burkina Faso, while respecting human rights, was protecting the rights of local populations as well as of 32,000 Malian refugees. He called on the international community to provide multilateral and bilateral support at the December Brussels conference.

HISSEIN BRAHIM TAHA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chad, thanked the Council for its engagement with the Sahel and paid tribute to those who had given their lives for peace and security in the region, including those from his country recently killed in northern Mali. He affirmed the magnitude of the threats faced by the region, with the effects of climate change exacerbating the impact of violent extremism and a range of other problems. The Secretary General’s report rightly pointed out the need to address all such problems holistically and in partnership with regional efforts. In creating the joint force, the Heads of State of the Sahel G 5 countries wanted to show their determination to combat terrorism, illicit trafficking and other organized crime while fully respecting human rights to address to the gender direction and protect children. The Council’s resolution represented an important moment for the joint force’s deployment. However, the robust mandate the Sahel G 5 had set up for itself must be supported and adequate resources provided. The resources of the countries involved would not suffice despite their contributions; significant international support must come in a timely fashion. He appealed for adequate participation in that regard at the upcoming Brussels conference. He pledged his Government’s continued contributions to the fight against terrorism.

DIALLO MAMADOU BHATIA, Minister for Defence of Mauritania, thanking the Security Council for its engagement with the Sahel, affirmed his country’s determination to stand with the other nations in the region in fighting terrorism. If the threats were not contained, they would destabilize a significant part of the world. In that light, the Sahel G 5 pooled their efforts and launched their joint force. He thanked those who had supported the initiative early on, notably France. Its success required the full support of the entire international community, particularly the Council, the authorization of which was critical for the countries involved and gave their efforts legitimacy and the go ahead for mobilizing funding, including bilateral assistance. The requirements had been assessed and what was being requested was reasonable. Continued support was crucial.

IBRAHIM YACOUBOU, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation, African Integration and Nigerians Abroad of Niger, extended condolences to the families of the United States troops who had died alongside his country’s forces recently. He also paid tribute to others who had given their lives in the interest of peace and security in the region. He stressed that the war against terrorists and drug traffickers must be commensurate with the magnitude of the problem. Narco terrorist groups must be stamped out, the control of the Malian Government over all its territory must be restored and the peace agreement must be implemented. The war must be taken to the narco terrorists. Merely defensive measures on the part of MINUSMA were not sufficient. If the terrorists continued to control territory, they would have a secure base for launching destructive activities. For the joint force to be effective in taking the fight to the enemy, action must be taken now, in the form of full support to the force. Each damaging attack by terrorists on MINUSMA and other forces attracted more recruits. If action was delayed, the terrorists could become too entrenched in the region and it would be much harder and much more expensive to excise them.

Source: United Nations

   

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