Let me start by joining others in expressing condolences for the loss of life in the recent horrific attacks in Mali and Niger.
Secretary Blinken is in Alaska. He regrets he could not join you today and sends his best wishes.
As Secretary Blinken said at the G5 Sahel summit in February, America is a partner to the Sahel region. We are here to work with you to help bring security, stability, and good governance to the people of the Sahel. We support the Coalition and its Roadmap, which will enhance the international response in support for your efforts.
It is unfortunate that instability has grown in the Sahel despite our successful collaboration to disrupt terrorist networks. The number of people displaced in the central Sahel is now 11 times greater than it was two years ago. The number of people facing acute hunger has tripled over the past year.
We know more help is needed. America is one of the largest donors of development, security, and humanitarian assistance to the Sahel, and today I announce we will provide more than $80 million in additional humanitarian assistance.
As we work to alleviate suffering, we recommit to supporting our African partners in their work to address not just the suffering, but the drivers of conflict.
Rural populations seek the hope that comes with economic opportunity. Economic opportunity – and basic services such as dispute resolution and local justice – can help counter the appeal of terrorist group recruitment and prevent inter-communal conflict.
Marginalized groups should have a stake in their government. People throughout the region – especially those who are far from the national seats of power – seek a voice in how they are governed.
And governments should protect their people. When security forces violate and abuse human rights, governments should hold those responsible to account.
Mali’s stability is critical to the wider region. It should remain a focus of our attention. We laud the transitional government’s commitment to long-needed governance, anti-corruption, and security reforms. However, we believe that the implementation of those reforms should begin now and be handed over to a democratically elected, representative government by the April 2022 timeline, as the transitional government has agreed.
It is our firm belief, proven throughout history, that strong democracies are more stable, more open, more committed to human rights, less prone to conflict, and more conducive to economic growth than undemocratic forms of governance
We look forward to continuing our work with our African and European partners to help create a more prosperous and stable Sahel region.