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Quarterly Highlights: - 3rd Quarter of 2012 (July - September)

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Conflicts, Complex Emergencies and Artificial Borders in West Africa

OVERVIEW OF PEACE AND SECURITY IN WEST AFRICA
The third Quarter of 2012 witnessed the rise of complex humanitarian emergencies resulting from the food crisis in the Sahel belt exacerbated by the conflict in Northern Mali and its threat to peace and security of the sub-region. Piracy in the gulf of Guinea affected the West Africa Gas Pipeline leading to load shedding of electricity and massive economic losses in many counties.

Incessant and caustic floods affected six countries of Nigeria, Niger, Senegal, Mali, Cameroon and Chad. Areas in these countries have been experiencing heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding. The rains and floods have claimed many lives, destroyed many houses that have left about 100,000 people homeless. Most of these have found shelter with host families, while others have sought refuge in schools and places of worship. Crops and granaries of the affected families have been destroyed, and livestock lost is huge with consequences on immediate and long term survival of the primary families and the sub region

The quarter witnessed an increase in attacks by Militants in the oil region of Nigeria, criminality and piracy activities. As efforts continue to rescue seven foreign workers kidnapped from a vessel off the coast of Nigeria, it is evident that the region is now a crucial point for armed robberies at sea, with high levels of violence against crew members by armed pirates.

The combined threat of drought, high food prices, displacement and chronic poverty has continued to affect millions of people in the Sahel region. Insecurity and malnutrition are recurrent in the region with more than 16 million people directly at risk. The condition is compounded by high food prices and a decrease in remittances owing to the global economic crisis, the return of migrants from Libya, the insecurity in Northern Mali that has compelled thousands to seek refuge in neighbouring countries, thereby aggravating the food crisis in those countries. This deteriorating security situation in the Northern areas of the Sahel is further aggravating the peace and security situation in West Africa.

Unabated rebellion in Northern Mali continues to be a worrisome one. Turaeg rebellion has been hijacked by the Islamists groups Ansar Dine and Al-Qaida in the Maghreb (AGIM) who continue to hold the country to ransom. According to a UNHCR report, the conflict in northern Mali has internally displaced more than 200,000 and driven more than a quarter-million refugees into neighbouring countries, compounding the situation in West Africa's Sahel region, where some 18 million people are going hungry, more than a million of whom are acutely malnourished children.

Violent extremism and religious fundamentalism has lingered on in Northern Nigeria where the Islamist militant group “Boko Haram” have unrelentingly attacked places of worship and other strategic places. These attacks have claimed many lives and destroyed enormous properties worth millions of naira. The security situation deteriorated in Cote d’Ivoire in the period under review as a result of the numerous armed attacks on the military barracks and on strategic locations such as the electricity power house in Abidjan. The attack in September on the Ghana Cote d’Ivoire border resulted in the unilateral closure of all the Ivorian borders (land, air and sea) thereby causing diplomatic strains between the neighbours.

Also, in Guinea, the confrontation between the ruling party and opposition parties over the political crisis that has affected the holding of Legislative elections was a concern. In one of demonstrations, the clashes resulted in the death of a civilian and many others were injured.

On the positive, with the demise of late President John Evans Atta Mills of Ghana on July 24th, 2012, the country witnessed a swift transition of power to the Vice President, John Dramani Mahama through an oath that conferred him as the new President of the country on the same day. This singular act of peaceful transition of power further re-affirms Ghana as a relatively peaceful, stable and democratic country. With the upcoming December polls hovering around, it is expedient to maintain the peace and security currently ensuing in the country. ........

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