Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo has cautioned that a growing insurgency in West Africa’s Sahel is threatening to overwhelm the entire region.
Akufo-Addo made this submission at a meeting of West African leaders and European ministers on Tuesday.
The leaders met in Ghana’s capital Accra to deliberate on regional solutions to the conflict in Mali.
The meeting is coming after multiple withdrawals by foreign troops – France and Denmark – from Mali, where armed groups have seized vast swaths of territory. They have cited the military government’s involvement of Russian mercenaries as a reason for ending military cooperation with Mali.
“Today, the terrorist groups, emboldened by their success in the regions, are seeking new grounds,” Akufo-Addo said on the second day of the Accra Initiative security conference.
“The worsening situation…threatens to engulf the entire West Africa region,” he said.
Violent attacks have increased during the past decade despite efforts to fight non-state actors. According to the UN, the insurgency has killed thousands of people and displaced more than 2.7 million across the Sahel.
Collaboration with Russia and alleged army abuses exacerbated tensions. Ivory Coast is also withdrawing its troops as Mali keeps 46 of its soldiers detained, claiming the Ivorians are mercenaries.
There are concerns that military withdrawals from Mali will create a security vacuum in an area where groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) have already expanded into Mali’s neighbours and coastal states south of the Sahel.
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