Image of a crop field in Burkina Faso
Sahel and Mali
Mali's "multidimensional crisis" in 2012, alongside the general situation in the Sahel, has brought to light the existence of several, and serious challenges for Spain and the European Union. Among the threats, the expansion of radical jihadi terrorist groups, as well as criminal networks dedicated to all types of illegal trafficking, including people trafficking are those that stand out. The challenges include a raised demographic growth, particularly adverse weather conditions and a very serious humanitarian situation in some areas

Spain has three fundamental objectives in the Sahel. First, to stabilise the conflict zones, which particularly include Mali, but also the Lake Chad area, and to fight against the trafficking networks that exist throughout the whole region. Secondly, to advance towards ordered, controlled migratory influxes in order to guarantee regular migration. Finally, in terms of development, Spain aims to promote shared areas of prosperity in democratic frameworks which respect human rights. Economic development and employment creation are the sine qua non for improving the situation.

Governability problems, lack of means and the lack of the State, migratory movements due to hunger and droughts and fuelled by the conflict in Mali, have forced over 400,000 people to flee to neighbouring countries, further exacerbating the already delicate situation in the region. On the other hand, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Nigeria are countries that are directly threatened by the situation in Mali.

Spain has been committed to the Sahel for years and it has intensified its efforts in the region in general and in Mali in particular, where it actively supports the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement signed in 2014 between the government and rebel groups. As such, it participates in all the European Union's civil and military missions in the region (EUTM Mali, EUCAP Sahel Mali, and EUCAP Sahel Niger) and also the United Nation's MINUSMA peacekeeping mission.

Specifically in Mali, in 2018 Spain took command of EUTM Mali and is the largest financial contributor to said mission, training and advising the Malian military. Furthermore, the Spanish Guardia Civil leads the EU's GAR-SI Sahel project, to create gendarmerie units in Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger. Alongside France, Spain also actively participated in Operation Serval and is currently still cooperating with the French operation Barkhane, which has taken over from the previous operation. MINUSCA, the United Nations mission in the Central African Republic, also receives Spanish funding.

 

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