The Citizen Coalition for the Sahel presented its first report on Tuesday (April 13), “Sahel, what needs to change”. Objective: to make an assessment of the failure of the anti-terrorist policy pursued for eight years now and to put the protection of civilians back to the core of the strategy.
The numbers speak for themselves. In the Sahel, between 2017 and 2020, attacks on civilians multiplied by five. More than 2,400 people were killed in attacks by armed groups and in terrorist operations in 2020. In Mali last year, military terrorist operations killed more civilians than jihadist groups.
However, investment in the fight against terrorism now amounts to EUR 2 billion per year. This is four times the amount set aside for humanitarian aid in the region over the last four years.
In the face of this situation, it is important to change course. The Citizen Coalition for the Sahel, which brings together about fifty civil society organizations, human rights defenses, think tanks and humanitarian organizations, provides four important recommendations for this.
Firstly, it recommends protecting civilians at the heart of the response to the crisis. The Commission then recommends resolving the governance crisis in the Sahel, in particular by promoting dialogue, including with armed groups. His third piece of advice: respond to humanitarian emergencies when 15 million people need help. Finally, the coalition insists on fighting impunity, because despite investigations, no legal proceedings have yet been launched to punish those responsible for abuses against civilians.
“We must set up a zero-tolerance system against all those who are guilty of friction. We have not yet registered any cases of sanctions against people who are guilty of abusing civilians. (…) Unfortunately, there is no political will. “
Seydou Abdoulaye, President of the Pan-African Network for Peace, Democracy and Development in Niger, on ending impunity for those responsible for abuses against civilians