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On 25 September, in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the High Representative of the Union and Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, took part in a high-level meeting dedicated to the Sahel and Mali.
With hundreds of people killed in Burkina Faso and Mali since the beginning of this year alone, there is a regrettable deterioration of the security situation in the Sahel. This derives from tensions and ill feelings related to identity and community, which are exploited by armed groups who are extending their range of action into areas often abandoned by the state.
Furthermore, the crisis affecting the Sahel is multidimensional (involving issues such as security, underdevelopment and lack of public services) and therefore requires a comprehensive response. This entails supporting the socio-economic development of the region’s countries, re-establishing the authority of the state and strengthening public services, justice and reconciliation.
The European Union and its Member States are strongly committed in this regard. Since 2014, the total support given by the EU to the region’s countries amounts to EUR 3.8 billion; when combined with development assistance given by the Member States, that figure rises to EUR 8 billion.
However, the solution to the current crisis cannot come from abroad nor be imposed from the outside. During the meeting, Ms Mogherini stated: ‘No international initiative can achieve much without the commitment and determination of the countries of the region. We Europeans will continue to stand by you in a spirit of partnership: we put our strength at the disposal of your initiatives. But the initiative must be yours.’ She added: ‘Reforms must start in your capitals. The rejection of violence must come from the heart of your societies. We have made every assistance available to you and wish to continue doing so. But the rebirth of the Sahel has to start with you, with the governments and the peoples of the Sahel.’
The Sahel G5 (Group of Five for the Sahel: Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad) is aware of its responsibilities and has brought renewed momentum to its commitment, as expressed at the high-level meeting and reflected in particular in the willingness to develop coordination between the Sahel G5 and the rest of the region in order to make progress in pooling resources for crisis prevention and response.