Africa’s escalating coronavirus pandemic is raising concerns that terrorist organizations could exploit the situation to expand their murderous campaigns, particularly across the Sahel.
While terrorist attacks have been steadily increasing in countries such as Mali, Niger and Burkina Fasso, Moussa Dominique Bangre, country representative for Catholic Relief Services in Mali, believes the impact of COVID19 could weaken the country’s “capacity to respond to jihadist attacks.”
“COVID-19 has badly impacted the global economy, and Mali certainly isn’t an exception. There is a serious strain on public resources, and COVID-19 will further impact the country’s capacity to respond to growing violence and needs of displaced people and host communities,” he told Crux.
UN Secretary General António Guterres recently warned jihadist groups are already exploiting the frailties created by the COVID19 to wreak havoc.
“Terrorist groups are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to intensify their attacks and to challenge state authority throughout the sub-region,” said Guterres.
He said the problem is particularly acute in the border zone between Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, known as the Liptaku-Gourma triangle.
“Evidence suggests there is increased coordination and cooperation between some of the terrorist groups operating throughout the Sahel, from Mauritania to the Lake Chad basin,” he said.
“The dire situation in the Sahel region is further compounded by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, with terrorist groups exploiting it for both propaganda and action purposes, with potentially grave impact on the region,” Guterres added.
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