Sahel nations need more support to fight extremism: UN chief

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers a speech at a joint press conference with African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson following the opening session of the African-Regional High Level Conference on counter-terrorism in Nairobi, on July 10, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 10 July 2019
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Sahel nations need more support to fight extremism: UN chief

  • “Unfortunately we are seeing that terrorism is progressing,” Guterres said

NAIROBI: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the international community Wednesday to support West Africa’s fight against violent extremism, saying the region alone could not be expected to contain the spread of jihadism.
A raging Islamist insurgency shows no signs of weakening in the Sahel, where armed groups have gained ground and displaced millions across a large swathe of the troubled region.
Guterres said the problem was spreading beyond the region and the G-5 Sahel force — a joint military effort by Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad and Mauritania to battle the militants — needed greater outside backing than it was getting.
“Unfortunately we are seeing that terrorism is progressing,” Guterres told reporters at the opening of a two-day conference in the Kenyan capital on the fight against extremism in Africa.
“It started in Mali, it went to Burkina Faso, Niger and now, when we speak with the presidents of Ghana, Benin, Togo, and Ivory Coast, they say that terrorism is coming to their borders.”
The UN chief said it was essential African forces had “the adequate mandate and the adequate financing” to do their job, and called for joint efforts to fight extremism beyond the G-5 Sahel.
“I think now it would be important that we are open to support any African initiative involving all the countries of the region, in which the threat that is spreading,” he said.
The presidents of West Africa “believe that we need a much more robust and collective response, that the international community needs to find the mechanisms to fully support it.”
The G-5 Sahel leaders have repeatedly called for a mandate under Chapter VII of the UN Charter — measures which could authorize the use of sanctions or military intervention in situations where peace and security is threatened.
Their request has been denied, something Guterres said he regretted. Agreed funding for the G-5 Sahel force has been slow to arrive.
African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat expressed “difficulty understanding the international community’s procrastination” in financing security operations on the continent.
“It is an incomprehensible situation, the phenomenon is deepening,” he said.
As in Syria and Iraq “the entire international community must be mobilized to deal with a phenomenon that has the same characteristics.”
The Nairobi meeting is a regional version of the first ever global conference on terrorism, organized by the United Nations in 2018 in New York.


Moon back in NASA’s court 50 years after 1st lunar landing

Updated 19 min 13 sec ago
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Moon back in NASA’s court 50 years after 1st lunar landing

  • The White House wants US astronauts on the moon by 2024, a scant five years from now

CAPE CANAVERAL: The moon is back in NASA’s court 50 years after humanity’s first lunar footsteps.
The White House wants US astronauts on the moon by 2024, a scant five years from now. The moon will serve as a critical proving ground for the real prize of sending astronauts to Mars in the 2030s.
The billionaires’ space club including Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Elon Musk is on board.
But Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins prefers a beeline to Mars. Buzz Aldrin, too, is a longtime Mars backer.
NASA’s Project Artemis aims for a landing on the moon’s south pole. The space agency says astronauts on the next moon landing will spend a longer time on the lunar surface unlike the Apollo missions.