NEW YORK, OCTOBER 30 – The region of the Sahel represents for the United Nations not only a challenge, but also an opportunity: back in New York after a four day visit in Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso, the Italian Permanent Representative Sebastiano Cardi to assess the operalization of the G5 Sahel Force spoke of a “moral obligation” on behalf of the international community to lend support to the G5 Force, adding that especially the United Nations should not be afraid to invest political, but especially financial capital, in favor of an effective and long-term “African ownership”.
Stressing the urgent need to help Mali and other countries in the Sahel address cross-border terrorism and organized crime, Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday invited the United Nations Security Council to “be ambitious” in deciding how the UN supports the region’s newly-established joint force. “The situation in Sahel challenges us all,” Mr. Guterres told the 15-member body, describing the difficult operational circumstances facing the joint force created by the Group of Five Sahel countries (G5) – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger ¬– to combat terrorism and organized criminal activity, and to promote stability and development in the region. “Time is against us,” he said, stressing the need to unite efforts to address the root causes of instability in the region. He warned that not acting could have severe consequences for the region and beyond.
“Over the coming months it is in this region that we will be able to check: the ability of peacekeeping to face new challenges; the success of the United Nations in developing coherent and coordinated regional strategies with other initiatives at the local level; the capacity for integration and cooperation between the United Nations and the peace and security initiatives led by African countries, Cardi said today during a meeting chaired by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian. The four day mission in the Sahel was co-chaired by France, Ethiopia and Italy. France is trying to convince the United States to allow UN support to the G5 Force both in financial and logistical terms.
Addressing the Council the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, announced that the United States will fund up to $60 million in bilateral assistance to the joint security efforts of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Chad (the “G5” countries): “The United States supports the G5 countries’ initiative to develop a joint force and deepen cooperation, which has the potential to improve security and complement the efforts of the peacekeeping mission in Mali. Toward that end, the United States will continue its longstanding bilateral support to the G5 members’ security forces”, Haley said adding that “the US believe that the G5 force must be, first and foremost, owned by the countries of the region themselves. We expect that the G5 countries will take on full regional ownership of the force within a period of three to six years, with continued U.S. engagement. This is the approach that will be most effective, in the end, in freeing the region from terror.”
Italy will inherit on November 1 the rotating presidency of the Council from France: “We are ready to engage on these themes as well as the security challenges in the Mediterranean, a subject closely related to the dynamics in the Sahel”, Cardi said. (@OnuItalia)