A Chinese UN envoy on Wednesday called on the world to intensify efforts to counter the terrorist threats in West Africa and Sahel, including stepping up assistance to regional countries in their capacity building.
At a Security Council meeting on the region, Wu Haitao, China's deputy permanent representative to the UN, said the international community need to assist regional countries in building up their capacities in counterterrorism and de-radicalization.
He further said the international also need to tackle prominent issues in the region, such as the movement of foreign terrorists, the diversification of terrorist financing, and the collision between terrorist organizations and organized crime.
With regard to China's efforts in this regard, Wu noted that China has set up the China-Africa Peace and Security Fund in support of China-Africa cooperation in peace, security, peace keeping and maintaining stability.
He said the first consignment of aid materials worth 200 million RMB (28.8 million U.S. dollars) has arrived in Africa to support the development of an African standby force and the African capacity for immediate responses to crises.
In addition, he said, "we have provided 300 million RMB (43.2 million U.S. dollars) in aid to the counter terrorism operations in the Sahel and the development of a joint force of five Sahel nations."
Before Wu spoke, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel told the UN Security Council that the West Africa and Sahel region has been shaken by unprecedented terrorist violence in recent months.
In Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, he said, casualties from terrorist attacks have increased fivefold since 2016, with over 4,000 deaths reported in 2019 alone as compared to an estimated 770 deaths in 2016.
He pointed out that the geographic focus of terrorist attacks has shifted eastward from Mali to Burkina Faso and is increasingly threatening West African coastal states, and that the number of people killed in Burkina Faso has increased from about 80 in 2016 to over 1,800 in 2019.
The UN envoy noted that terrorism, organized crime and intercommunal violence are often intertwined, stressing "this is especially true in peripheral areas where the state's presence is weak" as in those places extremists provide safety and protection to populations in exchange for loyalty.
Therefore, he stressed counter-terrorism response must focus on gaining the trust and support of local populations.
He also called upon regional and subregional leaders to follow through on their pledges and upon international partners to lend their full support to the implementation of existing mechanisms with regard to counter-terrorism efforts in the region.