The ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council has approved the release of three
million dollars by the ECOWAS Commission to provide humanitarian assistance to
victims of food crisis and rebel attacks in the Sahel-Sahara region of West
The Council, at the end of its 29th meeting in Abuja on Thursday, 16th
February 2012 and chaired by Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Ambassador Olugbenga
Ashiru, also urged the Commission to take all necessary steps towards finding
solutions to the problems in the Sahel region.
The Council also mandated the Commission to issue a strong statement
supporting all efforts to maintain the territorial integrity of Mali and Niger
in the light of the current insurgency attacks in the Sahel-Sahara region.
It also approved the disbursement of funds to assist Member States to render
support to the returnees arising from the Libyan crisis.
The Council also urged the Commission to ensure continuous monitoring of
regional humanitarian affairs through existing mechanisms in Member States,
particularly the ECOWAS Emergency Relief Team (EERT) and National platforms in
collaboration with partners to prepare humanitarian programmes.
The Commission was also urged to sustain efforts in effectively tackling the
security challenges posed by the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons
in the region.
On the increasing threat of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, the Council urged
the Commission to assume political leadership and coordination of all efforts
in maritime related issues while developing a holistic regional maritime
The Commission was equally mandated to collaborate with the Economic Community
Central African States (ECCAS) and all other relevant stakeholders to tackle
the menace of piracy as well as convene a meeting of the ECOWAS Committee of
Chiefs of Defence Staff to review the security threats in the region such as
piracy, drug trafficking, terrorism and other trans-border crimes.
Regarding the status of implementation of the roadmap on Security Sector
Reform (SSR) in Guinea Bissau, the Council recommended that a bilateral
Memorandum of Understanding should be signed between ECOWAS and the Government
of Guinea Bissau to fast-track the implementation process.
Following the briefing on the 24th November 2011 presidential election in the
Gambia, which was not monitored by ECOWAS, the Council urged the Commission to
remain engaged with the Government of the Gambia and to dispatch a high-level
delegation to the country to discuss with the authorities and other key
stakeholders with a view to improving the democratic process in the country.
On the up-coming elections in Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Senegal and Sierra
Leone this year, the Council encouraged the Commission to continue its efforts
aimed at ensuring the conduct of free, fair and transparent elections in the
region. It also supported the initiative by the African Union and ECOWAS to
send a Joint Mission to engage all political stakeholders in Senegal with a
view to ensuring peaceful and fair elections.
Opening the meeting, Ambassador Ashiru had called on Member States to close
ranks in dealing with the heightened security concerns confronting the region,
noting that the impact of the political upheavals in the Arab world,
particularly in Libya, had compounded the security and humanitarian situation
in parts of the ECOWAS region, especially Mali and Niger.
In his statement, the President of the Commission, His Excellency James Victor
Gbeho, urged the Council members to reflect and take practical steps towards
consolidating sustainable development, democracy, peace and stability in West
On the whole, President Gbeho said there were positive indications that the
challenges to peace and security in other parts of the region were gradually
being reduced, noting that the consolidation of democracy through fair and
transparent elections in Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, Niger and Nigeria is
an added impetus to the process of assisting the region in realizing the
vision of the ECOWAS founding fathers.