Honorable Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission:
We are writing to you as African citizens who have dedicated our lives to the African continent and to the self-determination and development of the African people around the world. We are deeply concerned about the increase in security and the situation in the Sahel region in particular following the assassination of President Idriss Deby of Chad. Now, more than ever, it is time for the African Union to help deal with the crisis in the Sahel.
Central to the Sahel, including Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, it faces major challenges to peace and development. The three Sahelian countries are among the poorest in the world. The situation facing the people in the area has been taken seriously in a recent report by the People’s Coalition for the Sahel, The Sahel: Things That Need to Change.
2020 was a very dangerous year for the general public, due to a number of security challenges. More than 2,440 people have lost their lives in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Innocent civilians and suspected terrorists were killed last year by security forces more than terrorist groups. With nearly two million people forced to flee their homes, the figure has more than doubled in just two years. An estimated 13 million girls and boys are not allowed to study.
Honorable Speaker, behind these figures are African citizens who have lost hope due to the increase in violence in the last six months. Various militias have burned alive villagers, killed some with bombs and taken men on buses to kill them on the sidewalk. Violence is causing problems that were once more serious, exacerbated by the COVID-19 epidemic, the worst.
As the front lines change, many families are forced to flee, traveling for weeks or months, leaving everything behind and risking their lives to find safety elsewhere, exacerbating their problems. Our concern as African citizens is that these challenges can be reversed; Every time people flee their homes, alliances are shattered, regions collapse and countries are shattered. Those who suffer at the moment are young and old women who do not have access to education or basic necessities. The future looks bleak for millions of young people to see them.
The ideology of the Sahelian people is questioning the French participation in the region, especially the French military, as a political issue concerning the sovereignty of their country. The term “African response to the African crisis” calls for the African Union to take action and measures that establish the legitimacy of Sahelian countries in their decision-making process, even with the help of their allies.
Your Excellency, the Sahel region cannot rely on military solutions alone to solve problems. For this reason we reaffirm the view of the People’s Coalition that the AU’s views on the Sahel should be an inclusive, inclusive approach based on the idea that security, development and governance go hand in hand.
The AU should support good leadership in various sectors (local, national, regional, and global) and support participatory dialogue, with a view to finding solid and sustainable solutions for peace, security and development.
In line with its mandate, the AU should provide leadership through regional and regional support and facilitate the multi-stakeholder development process. We hope that through this approach, the AU’s AgeU 2063 vision can set an example for the Sahel, and set the region free from sexual immorality.
Honorable Speaker, the difficult security situation in the Sahel requires the AU to take immediate action. Restoring stability in all Sahelian countries must be at the forefront, and as such, it will also be important for the AU and ECOWAS to make significant strides in the necessary reforms, especially in terms of effective governance and security, as a means of restoring public confidence in government institutions. Achieving justice must be part of the long line of national security measures.
We look forward to what the AU is doing in the region and, most importantly, to the immediate appointment of a High Commissioner to Mali and the Sahel to lead the AU leadership.
You, millions of Sahel citizens, especially women and youth, are looking to your leadership to protect their interests and protect their human rights.
For our part, we are committed and ready to support the AU’s efforts to promote the shared values of Africa, including peace, security and development in Africa, of which the Sahel is an important part.
Honorable Speaker, we wish you good health as you run the African Union Commission, this great instrument for peace, stability and development in this country.
Alione Tine (Mr), Founder, AfricaJom Center, Dakar, Senegal
Bahame Tom Mukirya Nyanduga (Mr). Riders Ad Interim-African Union Watch, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
Coumba Toure (Ms). Writer, journalist, human rights activist, Accra, Ghana
Fidon Mwombeki (Rev. Dr). Secretary General, All Africa Council of Churches, Lomé, Togo
Kumi Naidoo (Prof). International Ambassador, African People Rise for Justice, Peace & Dignity, Johannesburg, South Africa
Lamin Saidykhan (Mr). Award winning Pan African Advocate and Human Rights Activist, Banjul, Gambia
Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba (Prof). PLO Lumumba Foundation, Nairobi, Kenya
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editor of Al Jazeera.