Security situation in the Sahel region:
extracts from the exchange of views with
- Gilles de KERCHOVE, EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator
- Manuel LOPEZ BLANCO, Director, Western and Central Africa (EEAS)
EP Subcommittee on Security and Defence
Lieu: Brussels, Belgium - European Parliament
End production: 28/11/2012 First transmission: 28/11/2012
MEPs exchanged views with Gilles de KERCHOVE, EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator and Manuel LOPEZ BLANCO, Director, Western and Central Africa (EEAS) on Security situation in the Sahel region on Wednesday 28 November at the Premises of the European Parliament. The event was organized by the EP Subcommittee on Security and Defence jointly with the EP Committee on Foreign Affairs. The combined threat of drought, high food prices, displacement and chronic poverty is affecting millions of people in 2012 as a new food crisis emerges across the Sahel Region. Food insecurity and malnutrition are recurrent in the region with more than 16 million people directly at risk this year. Against this background: "the North of Mali is becoming fast a multilayer sanctuary for transnational terrorism inspired by al-Qaeda, cross border drug trade and a hub for political destabilization of neighboring countries. It is a growing threat to neighbors, to the wider region, and to Europe" said Manuel LOPEZ BLANCO, Director of Western and Central Africa for the EEAS.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Exterior shot of the EP, Brussels
||Arrival of Gilles DE KERCHOVE, EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, greetings to Arnaud DANJEAN (EPP, FR), Chair of Subcommittee on Security and Defence.
||SOUNDBITE (English) Manuel LOPEZ BLANCO, Director, Western and Central Africa (EEAS): "In the North, time continues to play in favour of the armed Islamist groups like AQIM (al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) that intensify their uphold in the territory and population of North of Mali, while applying a rigorous and intolerant version of Sharia, that violates basic human rights. The North of Mali is becoming fast a multilayer sanctuary for transnational terrorism inspired by al-Qaeda, cross border drug trade and a hub for political destabilization of neighboring countries. It is a growing threat to neighbors, to the wider region, and to Europe".
||SOUNDBITE (French) Gilles de KERCHOVE, EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator: "We are seeing infiltrations and impact from terrorist's organizations in refugee camps in Mali, where internally displaced people are located. There is also a lot of displaced people in Niger and Mauritania and we have seen in the Sahrawian camps, concretely in Tindouf, direct actions from terrorists and kidnappings and also Sahrawians leaving the camps to join the terrorists groups in Mali".
||SOUNDBITE (French) Gilles de KERCHOVE, EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator: "AQMI is not happy to just stay in Mali. It's very much present in the North, in Libya, and we are also seeing some links starting in Tunisia and even in Morocco, where there is a growing worry about young Moroccans leaving the country to join the terrorists groups, with the risk that it implies of seeing them coming back to Morocco to commit terrorist acts".
||SOUNDBITE (French) Gilles de KERCHOVE, EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator: "For us as Europeans, we are still not getting to dramatic figures yet, but we are seeing a number of young people, often with dual citizenship, travelling to the area. A number of arrests have been made in France and Belgium. We've got Austrian citizens, Germans, in Libyan camps, waiting to be deployed and join the different criminal groups in case of military intervention".
||SOUNDBITE (French) Gilles de KERCHOVE, EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator: "The longer we wait, the more these terrorists groups will be able to spread their roots in the region. Humanitarian aid cannot reach the people in Mali and this means those terrorists groups are the suppliers of resources, they are ensuring the logistics and conflict resolution in the region. If they offer milk and medicines to the local families, it is obvious they can ask on return youngsters to reinforce for their cause. So the longest it takes for us react, the worse the situation will be. We need to deploy tour military mission as soon as possible".
||SOUNDBITE (French) Gilles de KERCHOVE, EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator: "Why don't we create under the UN auspices, as we have done for terrorism, a sanctions mechanism for drug trafficking, which is becoming a real threat for the security and the peace in Western Africa."
||Arnaud DANJEAN (EPP, FR), Chair of Subcommittee on Security and Defence: "What a waste of time! There's been alarm bells ringing for many years now in the Sahel region and now that we are about to deploy major resources, that we are about to start the training of the Malian armed forces, we have the impression that these efforts are coming too late and very reluctantly. And now that we are insisting in the military dimension, it seems that the countries of the region are, after all diplomatic efforts, more inclined to find a political solution to the problems."
||Cutaways (6 shots)