Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo on Tuesday warned that a rampant Islamist insurgency in West Africa’s Sahel is threatening to engulf the entire region.
West African leaders and European ministers are in Ghana’s capital Accra to discuss regional solutions to the insurgency that is spreading as foreign troops pull out of Mali, where militants have seized vast swathes of territory.
France, Denmark and Ivory Coast are among countries that ended military cooperation with Mali this year over the ruling junta’s cooperation with Russian mercenaries.
Mali, where West Africa’s insurgency took root in 2012, has been at odds with regional governments, Western powers and a United Nations peace-keeping mission since a military government that seized power in an August 2020 coup failed to hold promised elections.
Collaboration with Russia and alleged army abuses exacerbated tensions. There are concerns military withdrawals from Mali will create a security vacuum in an area where groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State have already branched into Mali’s neighbours and moved into coastal states south of the Sahel.
Akufo-Addo said on the second day of the Accra Initiative security conference, “Today the terrorist groups, emboldened by their success in the regions, are seeking new grounds. The worsening situation threatens to engulf the entire West Africa region,”
The United Nations (UN). said, ”Over 30 million people in Sahel will require life saving assistance and protection in 2022, almost two million more than the previous year.”
European Council President Charles Michel said, “The risk of contagion into the coastal states is not a risk anymore, it’s a reality. We all need to identify the best way to have an impact on the ground.”