UN says G5 Sahel force needs more support in anti-jihadist fight

United Nations (United States) (AFP) –


The five-nation G5 military task force in the Sahel faces persistent training and equipment shortfalls at a time of spiralling violence in the war against armed Islamist groups in the region, according to a UN report out Tuesday.

The force was set up in 2014 to tackle the jihadist threat in the Sahel region of Africa, and is made up of troops from Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad.

Supported by France, the G5 Sahel could eventually replace soldiers from France's 4,500-strong Barkhane force, deployed in the Sahel region of Africa since 2014.

"The security situation continued to deteriorate across the Sahel region, with attacks by terrorist groups against civilians and security forces and persistent violence along community lines," the UN report, submitted to the UN Security Council by Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said.

The period covered by the report, between May and October 2019, "was marked by low-intensity activity" by the Sahel force due to the rainy season "and the impact of persistent equipment and training shortfalls on its operations," Guterres said.

"I remain deeply concerned about the spiralling violence in the Sahel, which has spread to coastal States of West Africa, along the Gulf of Guinea," the document read.

"Terrorist groups have strengthened their foothold across the Sahel region, making large swaths of territory unstable and stoking ethnic violence, especially in Burkina Faso and Mali."

Since January more than 1,500 civilians have been killed in Burkina Faso and Mali, and more than one million people have been internally displaced across the five countries -- more than twice the number of persons displaced in 2018.

"To fully play its role and yield more tangible results, the Joint Force will need more support," Guterres said.

The Sahel countries have called for a stronger UN mandate for the force and more funds, Guterres said.

However, this does not have US support at the United Nations, as Washington prefers to offer bilateral assistance to the affected countries.