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  • Sahel (2020 – present)

    “In the Sahel, civil society is on the frontline of the crisis and has a unique expertise that too few decision makers take into account. By helping to create the People’s Coalition for the Sahel, Crisis Action has elevated West African voices to new audiences globally.”

    —Niagale Bagayoko, Chair, African Security Sector Network.

    A decade of conflict in the Central Sahel border region between Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso in West Africa has made the region the epicentre of one of the world’s fastest-growing crises.

    Hundreds of thousands have fled their homes, over 15 million people need humanitarian assistance, millions are going hungry, and the number of schools closed by violence has tripled since the start of 2019. Sahelian security forces, supported by thousands of foreign troops, have used military force to try and drive so-called jihadist armed groups from the region. But this military-first strategy is failing: attacks on civilians are increasing, little has been done to address the humanitarian and governance problems underlying the crisis, and the culture of impunity for attacks on civilians is driving a driving a deadly cycle of violence and extremism.

    In March 2020, Crisis Action launched a campaign in the Sahel, targeted at encouraging all governments active in the region away from a primarily militaristic response to the crisis and towards a more holistic, people-centered political response that addresses the root causes of violence and puts the protection of civilians at its heart.

    Working towards this, Crisis Action has:

    Yet this new consensus for a revised approach has yet to translate into more safety for civilians in the Sahel. Furthermore, it is at risk of unravelling amidst concerning setbacks: military coups in Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso; increasing attacks by jihadist groups; proliferation of self-defence groups and the use of private military contractors who have been accused by human rights groups of atrocities. More than ever, civil society pressure is needed to turn the rhetoric of a “civilian surge” into tangible policy changes to save civilian lives and improve governance, dialogue, the humanitarian response and accountability for attacks on civilians. The People’s Coalition for the Sahel and its more than 50 members will continue to hold governments to account in the urgent search for protection and peace for the people of the Sahel.