Johannesburg – The announcement by the United States of a further $60 million to establish a new UN-backed joint anti-terrorism force in five countries in Africa, will only increase the likelihood of blowback, and must be halted and justice restored, says CAGE Africa.
The joint force, which will be made up of 5,000 soldiers and police officers, will consist of recruits from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.
It received UN approval last year, but it is uncertain how the $500 million annual cost will be financed. The European Union has donated $58 million. The US announcement still awaits congressional approval, but has been warmly welcomed by France.
The joint force will certainly further destabilise the region. It will work alongside the current United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, known as Minusma, which has been documented to arbitrarily detain and torture local civilians and worsen tensions.
Feroze Boda from CAGE Africa, said:
“The announcement is part of an acceleration of US military activity across the continent. Recent reports show that US troops are now conducting 3,500 exercises, programs, and engagements per year, an average of nearly 10 missions per day in Africa, a 1,900% increase over just less than a decade. This is nothing short of a silent but sustained war, which impacts civilians and encourages individuals to join violent groups.”
“A UN report cited that 83% of young men who had previously joined armed groups had done so because armed groups provided employment and security. This shows that conflict arises in regions where there is insecurity and a broken economy, both of which are effects of military acceleration.”
“It is well documented that counter-terrorism forces in Africa commit widespread human rights abuses and target Muslim communities. CAGE Africa calls for the withdrawal of US troops and UN-backed troops, full accountability for all abuses committed under the ‘War on Terror’ and a negotiated end to hostilities.”
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