India voiced concern over unabated terrorism in the Sahel and Lake Chad region and over the piracy hotspot in the Gulf of Guinea, with several Indian sailors being victims of piracy and kidnappings, and underlined that terrorism and piracy need to be dealt with effectively and decisively. The security situation in the Sahel and Lake Chad region remains a matter of serious concern. Terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime have continued unabated. The terror attacks in Burkina Faso, particularly in regions bordering Mali and Niger, have again underscored the urgent need to intensify efforts to combat terrorism, which is spilling over into other countries and regions, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador TS Tirumurti said Monday.
Tirumurti, speaking at the Security Council open briefing on United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), stressed on the need for closer coordination in counter-terrorism cooperation in the region and its periphery, to counter the growth of terrorist entities effectively. In this regard, he said the coordinating role of UNOWAS, its support to national governments and its partnership with G5 Sahel and ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) will be critical. On the piracy front, Tirumurti said it is matter of concern that the Gulf of Guinea remains a “piracy hotspot" with 17 incidents having occurred during the last six months. Several Indian sailors have also been victims of piracy and kidnappings. There is an urgent need to increase surveillance to ensure maritime security in the area, through increased international collaboration. While terrorism and piracy need to be effectively and decisively dealt with, international community also needs to develop a coherent, coordinated and cooperative approach to deal with the worrisome humanitarian situation in the Sahel, Tirumurti said. Tirumurti told the Council that India has been steadfast in extending support to the countries of the region in their efforts to bring back peace, stability and normalcy. In the Gulf of Guinea, India is engaged in combating piracy and ensuring maritime security and safe navigation.
The Indian envoy noted with concern that the activities of Boko Haram in Nigeria and Lake Chad have not subsided. The recent terror attacks by the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) are more brutal than those carried out by Boko Haram, he said adding that ISWAP, supported by elements in West Asia and North Africa, is emerging as a radicalised and brutal terrorist entity, posing a serious threat to peace and stability in the region. Tirumurti also strongly condemned the terrorist attacks on civilians as well as national, regional and international security forces in the region and said India supports a strong military response. He said the Governments of the region have shown tremendous resolve to take on terrorist groups and India commends the efforts of regional counterterrorism initiatives such as G-5 Sahel Joint Force, and Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), which is a model that illustrates the ownership taken by countries of the region for their collective security. The Council and international community need to actively support these initiatives, he said.
Highlighting India’s robust security partnership with countries in the region, Tirumurti said India has commenced counter-terrorism training in the region. Under our Defence ITEC training program, India is currently providing about 250 training slots to countries in the region. “We remain committed to support countries in the region through capacity building and strengthening of democratic institutions. Tirumurti emphasized the need to ensure an integrated approach towards the region, noting that many of their problems are regional in nature and require an integrated and multi-country approach. He said the problem of the drying up of Lake Chad, which adjoins four different countries (Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon), has caused grave socio-economic problems and also spurred radicalization and terrorism. India noted that the Presidential elections held in Guinea, Cte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Niger have further consolidated democracy in West Africa. Although these elections were mired in political tensions, violence and electoral disputes, stakeholders took recourse to legal means for resolving these disputes, which is an encouraging sign of growing confidence and respect for constitutional bodies, Tirumurti said. Welcoming the positive developments, India congratulated the people and leadership of these countries for reaffirming their faith in democracy, and for their commitment to sustainable peace and development.
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