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Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has expressed concern about food insecurity and humanitarian crisis in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger Republic.
The ECOWAS commission president, Omar Touray, blamed the military coups in those countries for their current security and humanitarian situation.
Touray spoke at the opening of the 51st Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council at the ministerial level in Abuja on Wednesday, December 6.
Touray said the region has continued to be challenged, stressing that these military coups are not only “based on fake narrative and false justifications; they are also a driver of insecurity in the region.”
Explaining the enormous impact of a military coup, ECOWAS President said from January 1st –October 23rd, 2023, adding, “In just Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, a total of 4.8 million people face food insecurity, 2.4 million people are internally-displaced and close to 9000 schools remain closed.
“A disaggregation of the data shows that Burkina Faso has the highest number of food-insecure people – close to 2.2 million; followed by Niger with 1.9 million and Mali with about 800 000.
“Burkina Faso also accounts for the largest number of internally displaced people – about 2 million; while Mali and Niger each have close to half a million displaced persons. The number of schools closed stands at 6,000 in Burkina Faso, 1,700 in Mali and 1,000 in Niger.
“From January to 30th November, 2023 the number of terrorist attacks in Burkina was 1,256; in Mali, 1,032 and in Niger 391. The figures in terms of casualties were 4,788 in Burkina Faso; 2,174 in Mali and 606 in Niger.”
Touray also pointed out that insecurity and instability have driven the humanitarian needs of millions of vulnerable populations to new heights and further weakened their resilience.
He said: “We have a huge humanitarian situation in our hands, which will take decades to resolve. Internal displacement and forced migration, food insecurity, poor nutrition, and educational challenges amongst others remain a serious concern.
“Humanitarian access has remained more complex and restricted, making it difficult for millions of civilians trapped in conflict zones and displaced persons to be reached. This is particularly the case with our people in the frontline states of Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria.”
He however pledged that the region would continue “to make efforts for a quick return to constitutional order in these Member States” adding that “as part of our humanitarian response, the Commission is taking several significant steps to increase its intervention assistance, including the deployment of some funds from the Counterterrorism Fund to provide for basic education to conflict-affected children, livelihood support, and resilience building.”
He said: “On the political front, the transition roadmaps and timetables agreed with the transition authorities in Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso for rapid and peaceful restoration of constitutional order have been implemented at varied paces amid worsening security situations.”
On the attempted coup d’état in Niger, Touray said it has further distracted attention from the support to these transition processes as the transition countries seek to forge solidarity with the military authorities in the Republic of Niger, thereby creating an impression of a divide between them and ECOWAS.”
In his opening address, the chairman of the mediation and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, said the meeting availed the region ministers the opportunity to exhaustively discuss its collective existential challenges and to devise strategies to tackle these emerging threats for the overall well-being of their community citizens.
Tuggar noted: “It is through these discussions that we can effectively shape the policies for our collective response, ensuring comprehensive and coordinated actions that align with the needs and aspirations of our member states.”Follow us on social media