January 2020: summit meeting in Pau
From terror attacks to the effects of climate change to grinding poverty, the Sahel region in the north of the African continent faces enormous challenges. In January 2020, the heads of State and Government of the five Sahel states – Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, the Niger and Chad – met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Pau in the south of France to discuss the situation in the Sahel, which had further deteriorated. Those talks focused on the fight against terrorism, and one outcome was greater military cooperation between the Sahel states and France.
One year later: summit meeting in N’Djaména
One year later, the countries are taking stock. The summit began with a meeting of the five Sahel states on 15 February in N’Djaména, the capital of Chad. On 16 February they will be joined by international partners, mostly via video link. Alongside Emmanuel Macron, the EU High Representative Josep Borrell and the President of the European Council Charles Michel, these partners include representatives of the United Nations, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is representing Germany at the summit via video link.
While there has already been tangible progress in the fight against terror, the priority now is to focus greater efforts on civilians – strengthening the presence of the state in the form of administration, justice and policing, and ensuring that the population has access to food, water, education and health services.
At the conference, Foreign Minister Maas emphasised:
Security, stability and development remain our shared goals for the Sahel. In this situation, the G5 countries should strive for two things: strong security forces that are able to restore and uphold safety, but also efficient public services for the people of the region, particularly in fragile areas.
Germany’s extensive involvement
The Sahel region is crucial for the stability of West Africa – and for security in Europe. The region is thus also one priority of German foreign, security and development policy, an area in which Germany takes a comprehensive approach. Up to 1500 soldiers are supporting the UN stabilisation operation MINUSMA and the EU mission EUTM in Mali. MINUSMA is the largest deployment of the Bundeswehr abroad. Germany also provides humanitarian assistance in the region, supports stabilisation measures and engages in development cooperation with the countries of the Sahel region.