• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Terrorism: ECOWAS defence chiefs strategise on $2.6bn to fund standby force

Terrorism: ECOWAS defence chiefs strategise on $2.6bn to fund standby force

Top military leaders from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states are strategising on how to raise $2.6 billion to activate a Standby Force to tackle rising insecurity and terrorism within the sub-region.

According to Mohammed Abubakar, Nigeria’s minister of defence, this move underscores the urgent need for a sustainable funding strategy, as discussed during a high-level meeting in Abuja attended by ministers of finance and defence from across the region.

He stated this during a meeting of ministers of defence and finance, to propose the modalities for financing and equipping the deployment of the ECOWAS Counter-Terrorism Force in Abuja on Thursday.

Abubakar emphasised the pressing security challenges facing the region, noting that terrorism and violent extremism have continued to threaten collective security.

According to him, the ease of cross-border movement for terrorist groups exacerbated these threats, necessitating urgent action.

During the 62nd Ordinary Session held in Abuja on December 4, 2022, the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government tasked the committee of chiefs of defence staff to explore and propose options for the rapid deployment of the ECOWAS Standby Force, including the implementation of special kinetic operations to combat terrorism. Following this directive, the committee convened twice to formulate recommendations.

These were subsequently presented at the 50th meeting of the Mediation and Security Council at the ministerial level on July 5, 2023, in Bissau.

The latest meeting in Abuja focused on evaluating the financial proposals submitted by the ECOWAS Commission for the deployment of the regional force.

“The financial requirements for these proposals are substantial. While the cost for a 5,000-strong brigade is estimated at $2.6 billion annually, an alternative proposal for a 1,650-strong brigade would cost around $481 million per year”, Abubakar stated.

He also stressed the importance of a robust and sustainable resource mobilisation strategy, given the significant financial constraints faced by member states.

Abubakar emphasised the necessity of a collective commitment to developing a sustainable financing model that not only addresses immediate security threats but also lays the foundation for long-term stability and resilience in the region.

On his part, Omar Touray, president of the ECOWAS, underscored the urgent need for collective action against terrorism in the region.

Touray referenced the 2024 Global Terrorism Index, which reveals a significant shift in the epicentre of terrorism from the Middle East and North Africa to sub-Saharan Africa, with the Sahel region being the most affected.

According to the report, the Sahel accounts for over half of all deaths from terrorism in sub-Saharan Africa and 26 percent of global terrorist attacks.

According to him, countries within this region have experienced a dramatic increase in fatalities, with a 58 percent rise in deaths from terrorist attacks. Notably, Burkina Faso and Mali are among the most impacted, with Mali ranking as the third most affected country globally.

Touray emphasised the need for a unified approach to combat terrorism, highlighting the directive from the ECOWAS Authority on peace and security matters.

He stressed that the invitation to the meeting was extended to all 15 ECOWAS member states, including Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali who are currently under suspension, to ensure comprehensive participation in addressing this critical issue.

The president reiterated that combating terrorism required a collective effort and could not be achieved by individual countries acting alone.

In line with this, the ECOWAS Commission proposed that all member states, regardless of their status, participate in security-related meetings.

“Ministers of member states were informed of the urgent task of mobilising financial resources to support the regional action plan against terrorism.