Editor’s Note: May 17, 2019

The Sahel needs more drastic action

Burkina Faso’s foreign minister on Thursday appealed to the international community to consider creating a counter-terrorism coalition to help combat Islamist militancy in West Africa’s Sahel region.

This follows an ambush on Nigerien troops on Tuesday, claimed by Islamic State, which left 28 soldiers dead.

Attacks like this are escalating despite efforts to boost security in the so-called G5 Sahel states – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. A joint G5 Sahel force has been set up with international backing, which is struggling amid funding shortages.

Deteriorating security is fuelling a humanitarian crisis.

As of May 2019, 6.7m people in Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mali have been forcibly displaced.

The region is also particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, with temperature increases projected to be 1.5 times the global average. The UN estimates that 80% of farmland is already degraded.

The crisis is threatening to spill over into the region’s key economies. Last week 11 Nigerian soldiers were killed in the country’s northeast, in an attack claimed by Islamic State. There have also been attacks on the border between Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ghana.

In short, current efforts to stabilize the region are failing. Burkina Faso is right to call for more drastic action.

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