UNODC commits to support the G5 Sahel to combat organized crime, terrorism and radicalization

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The Interior Ministers of the G5 Sahel Member States met on 14 May 2015 in Niamey, Niger, to intensify their cooperation in the fight against organized crime in the Sahel region. The G5 Sahel, comprising of Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad, is an institutional framework created in December 2014 to coordinate development and security policies of the region.

During this high-level meeting, the G5 countries addressed the key issues that affect the Sahel region, which remains one of the poorest in the world. As stated by the Permanent Secretary of the G5, Mr. Najim El Hadj Mohamed, "since the debacle in Libya, the northern part of some countries have become a no-man's land where terrorists live and where all illegal trafficking take place. This is particularly true for organized crime which thrives through drug, arms and human trafficking, and even through the economy of the business of kidnapping. So it is necessary that States get together to counteract that."

Indeed, besides the various types of illicit trafficking, issues of illegal migration and terrorism have been the subject of particular attention at the meeting in Niamey. It is reported that 50-60% of migrants crossing Libya to Europe pass through the Sahel and that the region is also strongly confronted to the scourge of armed extremist groups like AQIM, Ansar Dine, Boko Haram and Al-Mourabitoune. The radicalization has thus been at the heart of discussions, under the auspices of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General for the Sahel, Ms. Hiroute Guebre Selassie.

The Special Envoy of the Secretary General for the Sahel, Ms. Hiroute Guebre Sellassie
The Special Envoy of the Secretary General for the Sahel, Ms. Hiroute Guebre Sellassie

The Niamey Declaration reaffirms the will of the Sahelian States to create a common space for dialogue and exchange on security by adopting new operational recommendations. In their final declaration, the Interior Ministers particularly agreed to set up a computerized communication system to facilitate a secure Information Exchange Platform and a Centre of strategic studies. Within the Platform, an early warning mechanism will also be established.

On irregular migration, the G5 is committed to act in a pre-emptive manner to fight against the smuggling of migrants, by strengthening cooperation between the source, transit and destination countries of migrants. The coordination will be accomplished with the European Union and specialized agencies such as Europol and Frontex. Ad hoc programs will also be implemented to dismantle criminal networks and combat illegal immigration. Finally, a separate report was produced, to prevent and combat radicalization of violent extremism. To this end, concrete measures will be adopted, notably through the establishment of mechanisms and frameworks to improve contextual analysis, raise public awareness and enhance capacity building of relevant institutions.

UNODC intends to provide financial and logistical support to this initiative and volunteered to assist the G5 in the development of a draft agreement on the organization and functioning of the cooperation platform in matters of security. It is also fully committed to participate in equipping the national coordination centres and training their staff.

The French Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, concluded the meeting by stating that "The security challenges we face in the region call for a concerted and coordinated response from all countries and all institutions concerned." The computerized communication device and secured system provided by the G5 is "the key to effectiveness in the fight against terrorism and organized crime." Were also present in Niamey the Spanish Interior Minister, Mr. Jorge Fernandez Diaz and various representatives and special envoys for the Sahel of the European Union, the African Union and the United Nations.