Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism – In Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, the Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal, a tangled web of human trafficking has developed along the Sahel, a region stretching almost 6,000 kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea and home to more than 300 million people.
The UN describes the Sahel as a region in crisis: its inhabitants suffer from constant insecurity, climate disruption, wars, coups, and the rise of criminal and terrorist networks. UN agencies estimate that more than 37 million people will need humanitarian aid in 2023, some three million more than in 2022.
Security has long been an issue in the region, but the situation deteriorated markedly in 2011 following the NATO-led military intervention in Libya, which led to the ongoing destabilisation of the country.
The ensuing chaos and porous borders hampered efforts to stem illicit flows, and traffickers carrying stolen Libyan firearms entered the Sahel under the cover of insurgency and the spread of terrorism.
Armed groups now control large parts of Libya, which has become a major hub for traffickers. The terrorist threat worsened with the entry of the notorious Islamic State (ISIL) group into the region in 2015, according to data from the UN Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED).
“Without action, the effects of terrorism, violent extremism and organised crime will be felt far beyond the region and the African continent,” Guterres warned in 2022. “We must rethink our collective approach and be creative, going beyond current limits.”