Terrorism part of "toxic mix" in the Sahel, says Eliasson
“The countries of the Sahel have become increasingly vulnerable to a ‘toxic mix’ of armed conflict, terrorist activities, trafficking of arms, and drugs and organized crime”, said Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson during the Counter-Terrorism Committee’s special meeting on improving counter-terrorism assistance to the region, held in New York on 20 September 2013.
"A number of terrorist organizations and extremist groups continue to cause grave problems for the Governments and people of the region," Mr. Eliasson said. "Their activities have seriously affected the security situation and undermined social and economic development."
Participants in the special meeting identified porous borders, weak Governments, poverty, and the lack of opportunities for youth as some of the many challenges confronting the region.
In a written statement, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Sahel region, Romano Prodi, stressed the importance of "developing an integrated and coordinated approach to help lift the Sahel region out of poverty and insecurity". The UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel Region advocated such an approach, focusing on achieving security, governance and resilience.
Mr. Prodi cautioned that insecurity and terrorist activity could increase if "structural challenges" were not addressed. Regional economic development, vital as it might be, could not be fostered in a climate of insecurity.
"Countries of the region must develop synergies that will have a multiplying effect on efforts conducted at the national level," said CTED Executive Director Jean-Paul Laborde. The international community would continue to provide technical assistance to States of the region and promote regional cooperation, he added.
Representatives of Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger described the steps being taken by their Governments, whether unilaterally or collectively, to improve their capacity to prevent and combat terrorism, referring in particular to their development of national strategies and to their cross-border cooperation.
Law enforcement and cooperation, border control and security, and counter-financing of terrorism were priority areas identified by CTED and by countries of the Sahel. It was also essential that assistance projects be implemented through partnerships between Member States and international and regional organizations.