About 1,051 cases of terrorism has been recorded in ECOWAS member States between January and April this year while 2,135 fatalities have been recorded within the same period.
The President of ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Jean Kassim Brou made this known while giving an interim report on the State of the Nation of the ECOWAS Community at the ongoing First Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja.
The report also indicated that the region, as of February this year had 438,687 refugees with Niger ranking top with 249,650 refugees.
Nigeria however ranks top in the number of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, accounting for 3,184,056 IDPs, of the 5,540,080 in the region. This is followed by Burkina Faso with 1,741,655 and Mali with 350,110.
Countries with no IDPs in the ECOWAS region include Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
According to Dr. Brou, the security situation in the Sahel region was becoming extremely difficult and worsening by the day.
He said the situation deteriorated in 2011 following the Libyan crisis which led to the fall of Gaddafi.
” It is worsening because the epicenter has not been resolved. The inflow of arms, ammunition, ends up in our region that is why attacks have continued in Mali, Burkina Faso, and coastal countries”.
He, therefore, stressed the need for coordination of the various Anti Terrorism initiatives put in place to tackle the menace in the region.
He said the Commission had in 2019, adopted the Anti-Terrorism Action Plan, while there are also G5 Sahel joint force and the Accra Initiative.
On having a regional force, the President of the ECOWAS Commission said what was paramount was having the relevant equipment for the force.
“What we need is equipment suitable for the purpose. Our Force can do the work. Our men know the terrain, they know the people. They also need support for appropriate training. Sharing of information is also important because terrorism does not reside in one location. If information sharing is not effective, it is difficult. These are what we emphasize in the Anti Terrorism action plan. Therefore coordination of all the initiatives is very vital”.
He said apart from the national budget from Member States, the regional body is trying to get additional support from its partners to curb the menace.
Reporting by Idara Ukpanyang, editing by Daniel Adejo