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  • Armed groups gain ground in West Africa.

    Armed groups gain ground in West Africa. | Photo: Reuters

Published 10 July 2019

The spread of violence in West Africa is not showing any signs of decrease and extremist groups are gaining ground in the area

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pressed the international community to support West African countries in their long-running fight against terror groups, Wednesday. He said the region could not handle this plight alone.

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"Unfortunately, we are seeing that terrorism is progressing," Guterres told reporters at a two-day conference on counterterrorism and prevention of violent extremism, which began Wednesday in Kenya's capital of Nairobi.

The expansion of violence in West Africa is not showing any signs of decreasing and armed groups are gaining more and more ground in the area, displacing millions of people and forces those who remain to live under terror. In late June, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stated there was an "unprecedented humanitarian emergency" in the region with 4.2 million people displaced by armed violence.

The problem is even spreading beyond the region, and that the G5 Sahel force, a framework of regional cooperation in security matters comprising Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, and Mauritania, needs strong backup and support from the international community, now so more than ever, stated Guterres. 

"It started in Mali, it went to Burkina Faso, Niger and now, when we speak with the presidents of Ghana, Benin, Togo, and Ivory Coast, they say that terrorism is coming to their borders," stated the U.N. leader.

He added it was crucial that all African countries involved in the fight against armed groups could be assisted with “sufficient, predictable and sustainable financial support,” from the UN Security Council.

The presidents of West Africa "believe that we need a much more robust and collective response, that the international community needs to find the mechanisms to fully support it,” said Guterres at the opening meeting.

In February 2018, the European Union raised 414 million euros, over US$466,350,000.00, from the international community for G5 security forces, however, Niger Pesident Mahamadou Issoufou, criticized the amount saying it was much too low. Sahel member states have repeatedly demanded the to use sanctions and military intervention in case national security is threatened.

The U.N. has denied this right and Guterres admits that financial help for the G5 Sahel force has been slow to arrive.

The Nairobi meeting is a regional version of the global conference on "terrorism" organized by the UN in 2018 in New York City.

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