West Africa ‘shaken by unprecedented violence’, UN envoy tells Security Council

© UNICEF/Fati Abubakar A young girl drinks water in the Bakassi IDP camp, in Maiduguri, Nigeria.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


The UN envoy for West Africa and the vast Sahel region, told the Security Council on Monday that in recent months, the region has been “shaken by unprecedented violence”.

An “horrific attack against the Inates military camp, in Niger, still haunts the region”, he asserted, adding that “relentless attacks on civilian and military targets have shaken public confidence”.

International forces in the region have also endured significant losses.

While acknowledging the nexus between terrorism, organized crime and intercommunal violence, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative and Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) argued the importance of distinguishing each as a driver of violence.

Extremist violence

Concerning violent extremism, he noted that the strategy and objectives of armed groups in the region are “in the public domain”, and cited Al Qaeda militants as using local dynamics to spread extremism.

Factors driving local conflicts

  • Governance deficit, particularly poor management of natural resources.
  • Inequalities and marginalization.
  • Corruption.
  • Governments’ failure of to deliver on security and justice.

In areas under their control, extremists provide safety, protection and social services, further exploiting State weaknesses.

And some of the most violent local conflicts in the region concern the seasonal movement of livestock by pastoralists, or transhumance, where extremist groups have managed to establish footholds.

While the situation differs greatly from one country – or region – to the next, man-made factors, such as flooding an area with weapons, combined with a harsh natural environment, expanding deserts and climate change, magnify the tensions related to transhumance.

Against the backdrop that close to 70 per cent of West Africans are dependent upon agriculture and livestock-rearing, Mr. Chambas stressed that finding ways to ensure peaceful coexistence between herders and farmers is “imperative”.

Other forms of communal violence are triggered by the nature of the fight against terrorism itself.

In some cases, there aren’t enough security personnel to provide adequate geographical coverage, leading to local defense forces who are “subcontracted” to do the job, or vigilantes – its own double-edged sword.

The UN envoy maintained that UNOWAS has been advocating for improved legal frameworks and longer-term approaches to help overstretched governments cope.

‘Multi-dimensional’ violence

This year, religious violence has been exceptionally brutal, particularly in Burkina Faso, which has experienced unprecedented anti-Christian attacks and similar patterns of targeted religious violence in Niger.

“Ideologically-motivated violence can feed on conflicts tearing apart communities over land or water disputes”, said the UNOWAS chief.

He flagged that responses and frameworks addressing multi-dimensional violence are anchored in building partnerships and implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Recipes against violent extremism are being put in place in many West African countries, with the common denominators of political will, courageous local actors and the involvement of women and young people”, Mr. Chambas said.

And some grassroot initiatives, such as inter-faith coalitions in Nigeria, have curtailed recruitments by Boko Haram while grassroot reconciliation initiatives are being evaluated across the region for bilateral assistance at the country level.

Decisive role

The Security Council can play a decisive role in accompanying these efforts, according to Mr. Chambas.

He reminded the Chamber that, in addition to donor and technical support, assistance on security-related and law enforcement matters remains vital.

“Curbing the financial and supply corridors used by armed groups, and the links with illegal trade, requires international cooperation; targeted sanctions and other measures recommended by Panels of Experts, are relevant for leverage”, concluded the UN Special Representative.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

COP25 climate talks: What just happened, and what lies ahead?

Wide-ranging reforms needed to ensure Italy’s economic recovery

Finding calm in the COVID-19 chaos 

Eurozone: The cycle of deficits, debts and austerity revisited

Lockdown is the world’s biggest psychological experiment – and we will pay the price

Gas pipeline in the European Union. (Copyright: EU, 2012 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Ferenc Isza)

EU Investment Bank approves € 1.5bn loan for Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP)

Approaching the challenges of COVID-19 vaccination

This is how AI can unlock hidden talent in the workplace

Brexit effect: Public opinion survey shows that EU is more appreciated than ever

State aid: Commission approves UK schemes to support SMEs affected by coronavirus outbreak

Parliament and Council agree drastic cuts to plastic pollution of environment

Junker for Commission President: What were the stakes in this affair

This Central Asian lake is a stark reminder of the impact we have on the planet

In polarized America, a new divide looms

Linking HIV prevention with SRHR

4 ways media and entertainment could be more equitable and diverse

On World Health Day, new report says the world needs 6 million more nurses

The world’s largest bus system is starting to go electric

Climate justice is also a local health issue. These 4 grassroots solutions are tackling both

A supercomputer is helping to reduce traffic jams, saving time and money. Here’s how

The age of influence: why digital platforms must come clean about political ads

Password managers aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Here’s why

Consumer protection: Commission welcomes political agreement by Council on the Representative Actions Directive

MEPs endorse EU citizens’ call for gradual end to caged farming

Single European Sky: MEPs ready to start negotiations

Available mental health services: is it only about professionals or institutions?

Humanitarian Aid: EU allocates €55 million in Sudan

5 ways Denmark is preparing for the future of work

European Public Prosecutor’s Office: EU Prosecutors take their oath at the European Court of Justice

A new European Research Area: Commission sets new plan to support green and digital transition and EU recovery

Finnish Prime Minister calls for a more united EU of concrete actions

The creation and maintenance of smoke-free public spaces in the UK

‘A global measles crisis’ is well underway, UN agency chiefs warn

Better outreach to citizens needed to improve effectiveness of European Commission’s public consultations, say Auditors

From violence to dialogue: as land conflicts intensify, UN boosts efforts to resolve disputes through mediation

‘Bicycle Kingdom’ makes a comeback, as China seeks solutions to tackle air pollution crisis

“The Belt and Road Initiative should be mutually beneficial for EU and China and every participating country”, Vice-President Papadimoulis of the European Parliament underscores from European Business Summit 2018

International Women’s Day 2019: women’s power in politics

European Youth Event 2020: giving a voice to young people to influence EU policy

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “You just don’t know if the oil price will be 20$ or 100$ in the next 2-3 years!” top Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff underscores from Davos

‘Ticking bomb’ health warning over deteriorating conditions facing Cyclone Idai victims

Europe’s dirty air kills 400,000 people every year

Warmongers ready to chew what is left of social protection spending

An analysis of the impacts of climate change on human health

Parliament approves the “rule of law conditionality” for access to EU funds

Commission welcomes agreement on additional financial support for the most deprived under REACT-EU

Commission welcomes European Parliament’s approval of Recovery and Resilience Facility

The European Union’s road to sustainability – how each EU state is doing

Approving most of EU’s accounts, EP requests new measures to protect EU spending

Close to final agreement on the EU Banking Union

Tackling Youth Unemployment

To flourish in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we need to rethink these 3 things

Why cybersecurity should be standard due diligence for investors

South Sudan’s peace process ‘precarious, but progress in being made’, Security Council hears

South Sudan: ‘Outraged’ UN experts say ongoing widespread human rights violations may amount to war crimes

Population in crisis hit EU countries will suffer for decades

Poland: attacks on media freedom and the EU legal order need to stop

After Brexit and Grexit, Brussels to deal with Poloust

Neelie Kroes at the European Young Innovators Forum: Unconvention 2014

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: