The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, today reaffirmed the European Union’s (EU) support for Africa in the fight against Islamic fundamentalist terrorism in the Sahel and Gulf of Guinea regions.
“We have been talking for years about the risk of contagion of the terrorist threat from the Sahel to coastal states. Today, this is no longer a risk, it is a reality,” Charles Michel said at the Accra Initiative Summit in the Ghanaian capital.
“We share the same reading of the situation. The objectives of the terrorists are well known to all of us: to threaten the very existence of your societies and countries,” the former Belgian prime minister emphasised.
The Accra Initiative was created in 2017 by five West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo) to collaborate against violent extremism in the region, joined in 2019 by Mali and Niger.
Speaking to the leaders of these countries attending the summit, Michel stressed that the problem “requires a rapid mobilisation of regional partners and the entire international community”.
“Your fight against terrorism is also our fight,” said the President of the European Council, who considers it necessary to “identify the best way to make a rapid impact on the ground”.
“We share your objective of focusing the Accra Initiative on operations rather than institutions: it is important to be concrete, tangible, effective and operational,” Michel said, adding that the EU believes in “African solutions to African problems”.
The EU, he continued, has been “an important security partner in Africa” and is “constantly adapting and modernising” its tools”, he stressed. “We have a longstanding commitment,” he added.
Charles Michel called for deepening political dialogue and “joint acceptance” of the terms of cooperation with African countries because “stability and prosperity on the African continent is good for the world and good for Europe”.
Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, whom Charles Michel met on Monday, also addressed the summit, and recalled that West Africa “continues to suffer from the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism that is spreading rapidly across the region”.
Islamic extremist conflict in the Sahel began in northern Mali in 2012, spread to Burkina Faso and Niger in 2015, and now Gulf of Guinea countries suffer sporadic attacks.
Ghana has strengthened security along its northern border and so far has not recorded any cross-border attacks.
However, Benin and Togo suffered attacks last year in their territories bordering Burkina Faso, where movements linked to the Al-Qaida terrorist network and the extremist group Islamic State are active.