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News > Senegal

UN Commission Addresses Organized Crime in Sahel Region

  • UN forces in the Sahel region, 2023.

    UN forces in the Sahel region, 2023. | Photo: Twitter/ @ChuckDalldorf

Published 25 June 2023

Armed violence continues to severely affect Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, the Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Niger, and Senegal.

The United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) convened an ambassadorial-level meeting in New York to tackle the issue of organized crime in Africa's Sahel region.


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"The security situation in the Sahel continued to be marked by terrorism and violent extremist groups frequently targeting border areas," said Ivan Simonovic of Croatia, commission chair, citing the United Nations Secretary Antonion Guterres' latest report.

The PBC has been actively involved in improving conditions across the Sahel, encompassing countries such as Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Niger, and Senegal.

It supports regional peacebuilding priorities and assists in the implementation of the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel and its support plan. Previous PBC meetings have focused on building climate resilience and addressing climate degradation issues.

With concerns over institutional fragility, weak governance, poverty, border security, population growth, mass migration and climate change, the commission also focuses on prevention and resolution of conflicts, violent extremism and organized crime.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that illicit economic activities there generate billions of dollars annually. The leading instrument for investing in peacebuilding is the Secretary's Peacebuilding Fund.

"The Sahel is a region of high priority to the Peacebuilding Fund, with 35 percent of its funds allocated to the region in 2022," Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support Elizabeth Spehar told the meeting on Friday.

She highlighted significant results achieved through the fund such as cross-border initiatives to support national security cooperation and operations to shut down transnational criminal gangs -- between The Gambia and Senegal, and between Mali and Guinea -- as well as a project in Burkina Faso to fight organized crime and illicit trafficking.

She underscored the significance of the UN's peacebuilding architecture and highlighted the secretary-general's proposed New Agenda for Peace, currently under development, as an excellent opportunity to prioritize prevention and peacebuilding.

The PBC, an intergovernmental advisory body launched in 2006, plays a crucial role in supporting peace efforts in conflict-affected countries.

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