The United Nations envoy for West Africa and the Sahel says the region has experienced “a devastating surge in terrorist attacks against civilian and military targets” in recent months.
Mohamed Ibn Chambas told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that the “unprecedented terrorist violence” had shaken public confidence in the region.
According to the UN envoy, attacks have increased five-fold in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger since 2016 with more than 4,000 deaths reported in 2019 compared with an estimated 770 deaths three years before.
In Burkina Faso, deaths rose even more dramatically from about 80 in 2016 to more than 1,800 in 2019, he said.
“Most significantly, the geographic focus of terrorist attacks has shifted eastwards from Mali to Burkina Faso and is increasingly threatening West African coastal states,” the UN envoy added
Chambas noted further that these attacks are often intertwined with organised crime and violence among competing groups.
He, therefore, urged leaders in the region to follow through on pledges to tackle terrorism.