The UN Security Council has unanimously backed a west African force to combat militant groups, arms, drug and human trafficking in the Sahel region.
Members of the council on Wednesday voted to have the force in place in the vast arid region that has become a breeding ground for terrorist groups.
“This important text in many ways is a crucial founding text, the council expresses its full support to the joint forces established by the G-5 Sahel to combat the terrorist threat they are facing and which knows no borders,” said French U N Ambassador, Francois Delattre.
This important text in many ways is a crucial founding text, the council expresses its full support to the joint forces established by the G-5 Sahel to combat the terrorist threat they are facing and which knows no borders
Last year, the nations of the Sahel – Niger, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania – proposed establishing specially-trained forces which would be deployed in hot spots within the region.
The United States, however, did not believe a resolution was warranted and did not want the world body to help fund the force, diplomats said. The United States is one of council’s five veto powers, along with France, Britain, Russia and China.
The first draft resolution authorized the force to “use all necessary means” to carry out its operations, but following council negotiations, the language was revised to “welcome the deployment.”
The resolution also encourages countries to provide support. The European Union has already committed $56 million to the Sahel force.
The United States is trying to cut the cost of U.N. peacekeeping and is reviewing each of the 16 missions as they come up for Security Council renewal. Washington is the largest contributor, paying 28.5 percent of the $7.9 billion peacekeeping budget.
Special units proposed by the five Sahel nations would complement the efforts of regular armed forces, a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali and France’s “Operation Barkhane,” which has deployed around 4,000 troops across the region.
France first intervened in early 2013 to drive out militants who had seized northern Mali a year earlier. But militants continue to attack in Mali and its neighbors.
The latest being an attack by an al-Qaeda linked group on June 18, when gunmen stormed a tourist resort in Mali killing 5 people.