The Mali Defense Ministry held a funeral for the 30 soldiers killed in a Monday attack on an army patrol by extremists near the border with Niger. Picture: Mali Army via AP

Johannesburg – As the security situation in Africa’s Sahel region - which runs from west to east across the continent from Senegal to Sudan - continues to deteriorate with numerous attacks carried out by militants over the last six months, Bintou Keita, the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, has warned that urgent action is needed.

Speaking to the UN Security Council (UNSC) in New York on Wednesday Keita drew attention to a surge in militancy against security forces and civilians and the mounting death toll, stating that in 2019 the number of security incidences had risen three-fold as compared to previous years, specifically in Burkina Faso and Niger.

Over the past six months, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger had endured some of the deadliest attacks against their militaries – with some major incidents occurring just this month.  

Moreover, terrorist violence has spread to the coast and along the Sahel-Sahara strip, which brings together the operational zones of the Joint Force of the Group of Five for the Sahel (FC-G5S) and the multi-national force in the Lake Chad Basin, Keita explained before encouraging the G5 Sahel countries of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger to “overcome the many challenges they face in operationalising the Joint Force”, UN News reported.

The FC-G5S was established in 2017 to combat terrorist and criminal groups.

The UN official warned that the Joint Force remains “a critical part” of regional and international security responses to address not only extremist armed groups in the Sahel but also other cross-border challenges, including human trafficking, migration and displacement.

African News Agency (ANA)