UN mission visits Sahel region to assess impact of Libyan crisis
An UN Assessment Mission has concluded its visits to Mali, Niger and Chad and is going to travel to Mauritania in a bid to look into the impact of the Libyan crisis on the Sahel region, particularly the four countries, the United Nations said here on Friday, Xinhua reported.
The UN mission is dispatched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon and headed by San Bassey Ibok who is the deputy director of the UN Department of Political Affairs. It includes representatives of the African Union and United Nations entities working in the humanitarian, development, political, peacekeeping, peace-building, migration, counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism fields.
The Sahel is a semiarid region of western and north-central Africa extending from Senegal eastward to Sudan. It forms a transitional zone between the arid Sahara desert to the north and the belt of humid savannas to the south. It stretches from the Atlantic Ocean eastward through northern Senegal, southern Mauritania, the great bend of the Niger River in Mali, Burkina Faso, southern Niger, northeastern Nigeria, south-central Chad, and into Sudan.
Mauritania, Algeria, Mali, Niger and other Sahel countries are struggling to contain the growing threat by Islamic militants in the region, which is long a safe haven for rebels and smugglers.
Following the visits to the Sahel countries, the UN mission will stop in Abuja, capital of Nigeria, for meetings with officials including the president of the commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The mission is scheduled to meet in Dakar, Senegal, on Dec. 21 to debrief with the special representative of the UN secretary- general for West Africa, Said Djinnit, under whose guidance the UN Mission was deployed, said a UN note to the press here Friday.
The mission will depart the region on Dec. 23.
"The mission appreciates the welcoming reception it has received for this initiative, taken in cooperation with the African Union, to assess how to strengthen national, regional and multilateral initiatives to counter the negative impact of the Libyan crisis on the Sahel region," said the UN note.