Moving beyond boundaries: Geneva Call’s new regional approach in the Sahel
10 February 2021
The security context in the Sahel has become increasingly insecure and has led to an unprecedented crisis. Today, people have only very limited access to basic services such as food or shelter and countless violations of international humanitarian norms by all parties to the conflicts are occurring in the region.
Because of these destabilising and conflict-fuelling factors, the Sahel region has become a very fragile and volatile environment. In particular, the instability in Mali has rapidly impacted the neighbouring countries and destabilised the whole region.
In this context and given the high concentration of active armed non-State actors and their impact on civilian populations, Geneva Call has decided to expand its activities in the region at large in 2021 with the aim to strengthen respect for humanitarian norms and to restore human security and stability.
“It is essential to intervene in the region, because in the Sahel the notion of frontier is a theoretic one” explains Moussa Touré, Country Director for Geneva Call in Mali, “frontiers do not prevent people from moving across the region. They do not prevail when atrocities are committed, and therefore a global approach – preventive in places and curative in others – is needed to ensure a culture of respect”.
Human security in the Sahel is particularly at risk as conflict has been spreading, aggravating the humanitarian needs related to recurring natural disasters (epidemics, floods, droughts leading to food security issues and acute malnutrition) but also triggering new phenomena, such as internal displacement.
In 2019, more than half a million people were displaced in Burkina Faso and Niger, which drastically increased people’s exposure to other violations of International Humanitarian Law such as child recruitment or sexual and gender-based violence and has led to additional assistance needs. This is why Geneva Call will put a particular emphasis on forced displacement in its work in the region. Child recruitment, protection of the medical mission and humanitarian access will also be at the core of its programme in the Sahel.
As compliance with International Humanitarian Norms improves the protection of civilian populations, breaking the cycle of retaliation and violence is much needed to create a conducive environment for peace and stability in the Sahel.