‘Instability In The Sahel Puts Nearby Countries At Risk’ – Rep. Edwin Snowe Tells UN
New York – Rep Edwin Melvin Snowe(District No. 1, Bomi), a member of the Liberian delegation at the ECOWAS Parliament has alarmed that instability in the Sahel region puts countries within the vicinity of the Sahel, including Liberia at risk.
The lawmaker made the disclosure last week when he addressed a high-level panel event on Mali and the Sahel in the backdrop of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Said Rep. Snowe: “In such a difficult period, we have come to reaffirm that we stand side by side with Mali. Mali’s challenges shall also be ours, and we will not relent, until absolute peace is restored to that historic nation, as well as the Sahel.”
The lawmaker recalled vividly, that when Liberia was on the brink of collapse, Mali stood with a nation in turmoil. “This time, she deserves even better… we will not abandon Mali.”
Rep. Snowe lamented that the special session on the Sahel was timely. “This meeting could not have been staged at a better time than now. The Sahel needs our immediate attention and assistance. Unrest in the Sahel is unrest in Africa!.”
Noting that the challenges faced by the Sahel are quite multiple and enormous, Rep. Snowe said the vast spaces of the Sahel, practically beyond the administrative reach and supervision of states, have made it a prone habitat for violent and illicit cross border activities. “The region has also been stricken by famines – exacerbated by climate change, thus resulting to food insecurity with millions put at risk. These areas serve as ideal environment for the increased trafficking of drugs, arms and persons. Anti-state revolts and religious terrorism have become prevalent in the region.”
The lawmaker averred that such critical issues requires the immediate attention of the world, as they pose serious threats to the stability in the region. He asked: “Can we do much more to ensure the Sahel is secured? – I say yes; but this comes with renewed commitments, bilaterally, and support from the multilateral arena.”
Rep. Snowe said Liberia, as well as ECOWAS is fully committed to the fight to end terrorism in Mali and the Sahel. “In this context, while we welcome and support the UN Support Plan for the Sahel: Working together for a prosperous and peaceful Sahel; which also underscores the priorities of the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel, we would like to recommend that international as well as regional efforts in the Sahel be coordinated by ECOWAS. ECOWAS countries are very well familiar with the region; these countries have knowledge on the situation unfolding in the region; many of them they share common culture, and ECOWAS countries have the experience and expertise in dealing with conflict of such nature.”
“In such a difficult period, we have come to reaffirm that we stand side by side with Mali. Mali’s challenges shall also be ours, and we will not relent, until absolute peace is restored to that historic nation, as well as the Sahel.”– Edwin Melvin Snowe, Member of the House of Representatives, Liberia
For the immediate future, Rep. Snowe said, while all is being done to address the concerns in the Sahel, learning from experience, it is important to ensure that the activities of United Nations Agencies and other governmental, intergovernmental and international bodies working in the region are very well coordinated.
This, he explained would prove pivotal. The lawmaker further noted that addressing, and or tackling the issues of the Mali and the Sahel comprehensively will compensate for lasting peace – that is, the root causes of conflict in the region must be considered and dealt with to their logical end; including religious differences, the adverse effect of climate change, among many others.
Rep. Snowe averred that it is equally important for the peace initiatives in Mali and the Sahel to be driven and owned by the locals, as well as national and regional actors, with critical and targeted support from international partners, if peace and development are to be sustainable in the region. To this end, he said, ECOWAS was happy to have learned about the inclusive national political dialogue launched in Mali quite recently. “To buttress this effort of Mali, and the Sahel, let us also contemplate increased engagements with countries of the Sahel; as we collectively endeavor to find lasting solution in the region.”
Additionally, he said, Liberia is also making efforts to do its part. “To present, the Armed Forces of Liberia currently has a company-size in Mali and our recent deployment in September made it Liberia’s sixth rotation of peacekeepers in Mali. This journey started far back as 2013; and Liberia became a full peacekeeping nation in July 2019 following a Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations and Liberia. We would certainly love to do more to see Mali and the Sahel out of the ashes of instability.”
The lawmaker reiterated Liberia’s unflinching support for peace initiatives in Mali and the Sahel, and call on global concerted efforts to ensure Mali and the Sahel have the opportunity to enjoy the freedom and peace they deserve. “It is a region of abundant opportunities and resources; and they need to tap on these opportunities; but instilling security would be key to ensure Mali and the Sahel reap the benefits of their resources.”
He thanked the Secretariat of the United Nations for the invitation for him to participate in the high-level event, which is of great importance not only to Mali and the Sahel, but also to Liberia. “We are equally pleased that this meeting places a spotlight on Mali which is of a particularly interest as well; especially given the fact that we are a troop contributing country to the United Nations Mission in that Country.”
The high-level panel event was attended by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, President of Mali; Mr. Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, President of Burkina Faso and President of the Group of Five for the Sahel; Mr. Sabri Boukadoum, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Algeria; Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France; Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission; Ms. Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Mr. Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President of the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States.