ECOWAS Reports More Than 3,500 Terrorist Attacks in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger

ECOWAS Reports Over 3,500 Terrorist Attacks in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger

In 2023, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) documented more than 3,500 terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, resulting in nearly 7,000 deaths. This concerning trend prompted the regional bloc to take action by establishing a dedicated terrorism force.

During a press briefing in Abuja, Amb. Abdel-Fatau Musa, the Commissioner of Political Affairs, Peace, and Security at ECOWAS, highlighted the severity of the situation. He mentioned that Burkina Faso experienced close to 2,000 attacks, while Mali and Niger recorded over 1,044 and 500 attacks respectively.

“The whole West African region, especially the Sahel countries, is rich in human and natural resources. However, it is also an area of immense vulnerability,” Fatau explained. “In 2023 alone, we saw over 3,500 terrorist attacks, with nearly 7,000 fatalities in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger combined.”

The impact on the affected populations is significant, with 4.8 million people in the Sahel facing food insecurity, 2.4 million internally displaced, and close to 9,000 schools closed in the region. Fatau highlighted the severity by stating that Burkina Faso has now taken over from Afghanistan in terms of the severity of the situation.

To address this growing threat, ECOWAS is in the process of creating a Counter-Terrorism Force. Fatau mentioned plans for a meeting of Ministers of Finance and Defence to discuss the financing of this force within the region.

“The Heads of State in ECOWAS recognized the urgent need for a counter-terrorism force during previous meetings,” Fatau stated. “We are now working towards establishing this force and will soon discuss how to raise resources within the region for its financing.”

ECOWAS, a 15-nation bloc formed in 1975 to promote economic integration, has faced challenges with military takeovers in the region, including in Mali in 2020 and 2021, Burkina Faso in 2022, and Niger in the previous year. The exit of three countries from ECOWAS posed a threat to the African Continental Free Trade Area, aimed at boosting intra-African trade and global market competitiveness.

Earlier, ECOWAS imposed economic sanctions on these countries, but they were recently lifted following the intervention of Nigeria’s former military head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon. The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Touray, emphasized that these decisions were made in the interest of unity and security in the African sub-region.

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