Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has commented on the steps his government plans to take to counter terrorism in general and in Africa’s Sahel region in particular.
Fielding a question from a Sputnik reporter at the Munich Security Conference, Trudeau stated that Canada is “fully engaged” in the international anti-terror effort within the US-led anti-Daesh* coalition.
He added that he had recently talked about the Sahel crisis with President of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, and Niger’s President Brigi Rafini.
He said that security remains high on the agenda in Sahel before adding that “Canada is evidently a partner”, but would not comment on specific plans regarding security.
A jihadist insurgence swept the region of Sahel, south of the Sahara Desert, in 2012 as a result of chaos in Libya. Northern Mali was the epicenter of the crisis, which later spread to the neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger, causing a humanitarian disaster in all three countries.
Burkina Faso suffered most, with one-third of the country turning into a conflict zone; two other Sahel countries Chad and Mauritania have also found themselves under threat of growing extremism and organised crime in the wake of the crisis.
All five countries – which are former French colonies – have launched a joint cross-border force to counter the terrorist threat under France’s leadership.
Canada, unlike France, does not have troops on the ground in the Sahel but provides aircraft and pilots to help transport troops between Europe and the Sahel. Ottawa earlier pledged to apply for observer status in the Sahel Alliance, a regional development organisation.
Justin Trudeau this week toured African countries to discuss human rights, security and climate change, and reportedly pledged $10 million to African nations to improve gender equality. Critics have accused the Prime Minister of effectively trying to buy the votes of African governments to back Canada’s bid for one of the two rotating seats on UN Security Council as it faces off against the bids of Ireland and Norway in a General Assembly vote in June.
*Daesh, aka ISIS/IS/Islamic State, is a terror group outlawed by Russia, the United States and the United Nations.