The terrorist threat in the Sahel

The Sahel is made up of many African countries stretching from East to West Africa, from Dakar to Djibouti. This region is faced with the growing threat of terrorism and organized crime.

Multiple threats

Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups in the Group to Support Islam and Muslims and Daesh including the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara are expanding and stepping up their attacks on the international and Malian forces including the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The different types of trafficking, inter-ethnic tensions and dramatic consequences of climate change on access to resources are also destabilizing factors.

France’s action

From the outset of the security crisis in the Sahel, France has been strongly committed to blocking terrorism. In January 2013, France took action in northern Mali via Operation Serval to prevent al-Qaeda-affiliated groups from taking control of the country. Since then, French operations, which include some 4,500 soldiers, were regionalized under Operation Barkhane. They provide essential support to G5 Sahel countries (Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad) in their actions to fight terrorist armed groups.

The G5 Sahel joint force

The cross-border joint force of the G5 Sahel was officially launched on 2 July 2017 in Bamako by the Presidents of the five Sahel States exposed to the terrorist threat (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger). It reflects Africans’ wish to take their security into their own hands.

Its mandate is to fight terrorism, cross-border organized crime and human trafficking in the G5 Sahel region. The progress this force has made with the assistance of the international community in one year is significant, and several operations have already been conducted, some in coordination with Operation Barkhane.

The Sahel Alliance: second component

To stabilize the region and prevent violent radicalization, it is crucial to create the conditions for economic development that generates jobs, especially given the growing number of young people.

The Sahel Alliance, created on 13 July 2017, is a mechanism for improving the coordination of partners so as to deliver faster, more effective and better targeted assistance to vulnerable areas. It focuses on the following five sectors:

  • Employability of young people, education and training,
  • Agriculture, rural development and food security,
  • Energy and climate,
  • Governance,
  • Decentralization and support for the deployment of basic services.

In addition to development projects, France also conducts humanitarian and stabilization actions to respond swiftly to the urgent needs of populations, to facilitate the return of the State and basic services and to promote social cohesion and reconciliation.

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