Addressing the situation in the Sahel
At the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council on 23 March 2012, ministers adopted conclusions relating to the EU's Strategy for the Sahel region. In March 2011, the Council had welcomed the presentation of a European Union Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel. This strategy proposes ways of improving the coherence and effectiveness of EU engagement.
Ministers expressed deep concern about the deterioration of the security situation in the Sahel region and condemned attempts to seize power by force in Mali. EU development assistance to Mali has been suspended. Ministers stressed, however, that humanitarian aid and direct support to the population will continue.
The Council welcomed the progress achieved in the implementation of the Strategy and invited both the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Commission to accelerate implementation and to "report regularly on progress". Ministers also announced plans to allocate an additional 164.5 million euros to existing action on food security in the region.
In its initial phase the Strategy focuses primarily on Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Algeria. Security and development have to go hand in hand and the Strategy can only be achieved through closer regional cooperation. Four lines of action are proposed:
1) development, good governance and internal conflict resolution;
2) political and diplomatic;
3) security and the rule of law; and
4) countering violent extremism and radicalisation.
There have been dramatic changes in the political, security and humanitarian situation in the Sahel region since the Strategy was first presented, confirming the high vulnerability and fragility of the Sahel states. The fragile security situation has been further exacerbated by a deepening food and nutrition crisis affecting 15 million people.
Council conclusions, 23 March 2012 (pdf)
Press release (pdf) - covers the whole meeting
Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel (EEAS - pdf)
Press conference (video)
Council conclusions, March 2011 (pdf)