World NGO coalition says new tack needed to fight Sahel insurgency
Spate of Islamist Attacks Puts Sahel on Track for Deadliest Year
(Bloomberg) -- West Africa’s Sahel region is headed for its deadliest year of Islamist-militant violence. Insurgents have killed at least 450 civilians in the region this year, Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project data shows, compared with 401 last year. The first three months of 2021 have seen more non-combatant deaths blamed on jihadist groups than the same period last year, according to statistics analyzed by Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development data analyst Jose Luengo-Cabrera.At least 1,000 people overall have died in attacks this year, including soldiers and militants.
Some 50 NGOs on Tuesday called for a fresh approach to fighting jihadism in Africa's vast Sahel region, including dialogue with insurgents and protecting civilians from soldiers.
The insurgency is linked to the Islamic State group (IS) which, like Al-Qaeda, is vying for influence on the continent as both recover from defeats and growing pressure in their original bastions of the Middle East and South Asia.
The People's Coalition for the Sahel, created last year, is backed by bodies such as Oxfam and Human Rights Watch and includes women's rights groups and legal associations from mainly three countries -- Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.
Morocco sees Sahel jihadists as magnet for local cells
Morocco sees Sahel jihadists as magnet for local cellsRABAT (Reuters) - Jihadist groups in the nearby Sahel region, which recruit and train their followers online, represent Morocco's biggest militant threat, the head of its counterterrorism agency said.
"Across the Central Sahel, more civilians were killed by soldiers supposed to protect them than by non-state armed groups. Yet no Burkinabe, Malian, Nigerien soldier or militia leader implicated in human rights violations has yet been brought to justice," it said in a report.
The coalition called for fair and impartial trials into cases of killings, rape and torture committed by both sides and "a zero tolerance policy on offences committed by the defence and security forces and the militia".
"The current approach clearly failed to stem attacks by so-called jihadist groups, which have almost doubled each year since 2016," it said.
Video: Iran vows revenge, accuses Israel of sabotaging nuclear facility (CNBC)
"Between 2017 and 2020, attacks against civilians quintupled, from 205 to 1,096, and the number of unarmed civilians or suspects killed, including women and children, rose from 356 to 2,443, a seven-fold increase."
Several dozen jihadists, including commander, killed in Mali: UN
More than 40 jihadists, including a senior commander, were killed last week after they attacked United Nations peacekeepers in northern Mali, the UN force MINUSMA said on Monday. The attack targeted a Chadian contingent of MINUSMA at Aguelhok in northern Mali, around 200 kilometres (120 miles) from the border with Algeria. The dawn raid was carried out by a mobile force on motorbikes and in vehicles."The peacekeepers have inflicted a serious setback on the terrorists, that's for sure, even though we are mourning the death of four" peacekeepers, said Annadif, who is also the secretary general's special representative for Mali.
Africa accounts for 16.5 percent of all attacks claimed by IS since January 2020, according to a well-respected terrorism analyst who publishes on Twitter as Mr. Q.
The coalition called for a "drastic reordering of priorities so that the measure of success of interventions is not only military -- through the list of 'neutralised terrorists' -- but also includes the number of civilians protected, the number of displaced people who have voluntarily returned to their homes, schools that have reopened, and fields that are once again cultivated."
The report said about two billion euros ($2.4 billion) was spent every year fighting terrorism in the Sahel -- four times more than the average annual amounts allocated to humanitarian aid over the past four years.
Security spending in the three countries meanwhile accounted for up to a fifth of national budgets -- often at the expense of basic social projects and huge sums were pilfered.
"In Niger, 76 billion CFA francs (116 million euros, $137 million) were embezzled between 2014 and 2019, according to a provisional audit by the General Inspectorate of the Armed Forces revealed in February 2020," it said.
According to the coalition, about two million people have had to flee their homes due to the violence in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger and 14.4 million people are in need of assistance.
Mali post-coup govt says elections set for February 2022 .
Presidential and legislative elections in Mali will take place next February, the country's post-coup government announced Thursday, saying it was honouring the timetable it promised to the international community. The first round of voting for the presidency and legislature will take place on February 27 2022, followed by runoff votes on March 13 and 22 respectively, the minister of territorial administration, Lieutenant Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, told reporters.