Africa 1 HOUR AGO BURKINA FASO Mauritanian soldiers at a G5 Sahel task force command post in the southeast of Mauritania near the border with Mali. By THOMAS SAMSON (AFP/File)
Still reeling from shock attacks on churches, Burkina Faso appealed to world powers on Thursday to form an international coalition to help the Sahel region fight jihadists.
"The struggle against terrorism in the Sahel is a struggle for the survival of the states of the Sahel," Burkina Faso's Foreign Minister Alpha Barry told the UN Security Council.
The council was meeting to discuss the rise in attacks in the Sahel, where Burkina Faso and four other countries, known as the G5, have established a regional force to try to beat back the insurgents.
The foreign minister argued that the threat from extremists in the Sahel should be tackled with same determination shown by world powers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It is time for the international community to consider creating an international coalition that would tackle terrorism on the territories of the G5 and in the entire Sahel," he said.
The council has been divided on how to support the G5 countries, with France leading calls for UN funding for the regional force, a move opposed by the United States.
The G5 countries Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, are spending a large part of their budgets — 18 to 32 percent — on security, said Barry.
The foreign minister said addressing the threat from extremists was a "major emergency to prevent a collapse of our states and avert generalized chaos on our continent, which would have multiple repercussions for the rest of the world."
A priest and five parishioners were killed during mass services in northern Burkina Faso on Sunday, and four Catholics were gunned down during a religious procession on Monday.
More than 300 people have died this year in inter-communal violence, according to the foreign minister.
Barry also urged the council to come up with a united position on how to address the fighting in Libya, which he described as the main destabilizing factor in the region.