The ECOWAS Commission President, Omar Touray, made this known in his welcoming statement at the 51st Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council at Ministerial Level in Abuja on Wednesday.
A coup d’etat was launched in Burkina Faso on January 23, 2022; Mali on May 24, 2021 and coup took place in Niger Republic on July 26, 2023.
Touray noted that the overall security environment in the region has continued to be challenged, adding that “On the political front, the transition roadmaps and timetables agreed with the transition authorities in Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso for rapid and peaceful restoration of constitutional order have been implemented at varied paces amid worsening security situations.
“The attempted coup d’état in Niger has further distracted attention from the support to these transition processes as the transition countries seek to forge a solidarity with the military authorities in the Republic of Niger, thereby creating an impression of a divide between them and ECOWAS.”
Touray noted that these military coups are not only “based on fake narrative and false justifications; they are also a driver of insecurity in the region.”
To drive home the gravity of the insecurity to which military coups contribute from January 1–October 23 2023, the president said, “In just Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, a total of 4.8 million people face food insecurity, 2.4 million people are internally-displaced and close to 9 000 schools remain closed.
“Burkina Faso also accounts for the largest number of internally displaced people – about 2 million; while Mali and Niger each have close to half a million displaced persons. The number of schools closed stands at 6,000 in Burkina Faso, 1,700 in Mali and 1,000 in Niger.
“From January to November 30, 2023 the number of terrorist attacks in Burkina was 1,256; in Mali, 1,032 and in Niger 391. The figures in terms of casualties were 4,788 in Burkina Faso; 2,174 in Mali and 606 in Niger.”
Touray further noted that the persistence of insecurity and instability have driven the humanitarian needs of millions of vulnerable populations to new heights and further weakened their resilience.
He said, “We have a huge humanitarian situation in our hands, which will take decades to resolve. Internal displacement and forced migration, food insecurity, poor nutrition, and educational challenges amongst others remain a serious concern.
“Humanitarian access has remained more complex and restricted, making it difficult for millions of civilians trapped in conflict zones and displaced persons to be reached. This is particularly the case with our people in the frontline states of Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria.”
He, however, pledged that the region would continue “to make efforts for a quick return to constitutional order in these Member States” adding that “as part of our humanitarian response, the Commission is taking several significant steps to increase its intervention assistance, including the deployment of some funds from the Counterterrorism Fund to provide for basic education to conflict-affected children, livelihood support, and resilience building.”
In his opening address, the Chairman of the mediation and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, said the meeting availed the region ministers the opportunity to exhaustively discuss its collective existential challenges, and to devise strategies to tackle these emerging threats for the overall well-being of their community citizens.
“It is through these discussions that we can effectively shape the policies for our collective response, ensuring comprehensive and coordinated actions that align with the needs and aspirations of our Member States,” Tuggar noted.