SAHEL: A DESOLATE TERROR-TORY
Updated: Nov 30, 2021
The arid terrain of Sahel spans over 5000 kilometres of Africa. Often called the region of opportunities, it has been quite stagnant in a state of constant turmoil for more than a decade. This transition zone from Sahara to Sudan is laden with not only climatic but violent complications as well. Why has this crisis gone unnoticed? Why is there a crisis at all? It all points to the developed nations that preach help slogans but fail to perform, fueling the growing forces of terror.
France colonialized the whole of Africa decades ago, leading Africa to be the country that abolished slavery last. Last. To this day, we see minimal effort to help Sahel in this crisis from the US and other western powers, but France. At first, it might seem like a noble effort of redemption by France; however, that is far from the horrid truth. France drained Africa of all of its resources during its rule and should have stopped right after. Alas! To this day, France is the most prominent trade counterpart for this region. It seems like an innocent trade pact; however, it truly isn't. The troops deployed by France to 'fight' terror groups in the Sahel have killed 48 civilians to date, and only one death has been accounted for. None of the civilians' families were remunerated or given the much-owed apology. Strategically, France has succeeded and managed to exploit all of Sahel's natural resources. Why does France even deploy troops in the Sahel? One wonders; there is a motive to that as well. If terrorism grows in the Sahel, France will be the face of tremendous threat because 46% of its immigrant residents are Africans. Why? All because France enslaved the Africans years ago, and thus, the tale comes full circle.
The amalgamation of Chad, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Guinea, Mauritania, Cameroon and Senegal, the Sahel witnesses a rise in temperature 1.5% higher than the global average. It was a land where droughts occurred once a decade, and now droughts are as natural as rains in Colombia. 4.2 million people have been internally displaced as other countries close their borders, while its population is estimated to quadruple by 2050. A never-ending series of problems that don’t fail to obliterate humanity in the Sahel.
"It was the process of getting the water that caused me to fall into the well with my daughter."
I was telling them, "My child is dying! My child is dying!"
They asked me, "What about you?"
I said, "Just save my child! I know I will surely die."
Assia was one of the many women who went through this conversation for years. Little solace lies in the fact that Assia survived; to this day, she still travels to that very baneful well that gives her life as well. The well of life and death for all Sahelians. Water, food and shelter, the triad of necessities we take for granted, is a luxury for the 850,000 inter displaced and agitated civilians of Sahel.
After Angelina Jolie visited Burkina Faso as a UNHCR envoy, one would have thought the media would have covered the Sahel extensively for at least a while. It didn't. Today's media holds the power to do so much more than it is doing. This crisis remains unknown, like the many others in Africa. People are in dire need of help. We say the world is a small place now; borders have shrunk, but have they truly? While congratulating one country for their achievements, people and politicians don't falter from saying the former sentences, but what about critical humanitarian cases such as the Sahel?
The UN has laid out a full-fledged plan for the development of Sahel and has also set up several donation funds for its development. As effective as we hope these will be, no solution can be implemented without the voice of Sahelians being heard.
A Burkinabe chief housed 2500 displaced refugees, irrespective of the fact that he himself had limited means to provide for his community. This is the kind of altruism the Sahelians need. Everyday uncertainty and fear of being driven out of their homes by violence looms over them. Exigencies of Sahelians demand us to open our arms and minds to restore their peace; enabling them to live with at least the basic human rights that we surmise. Every time we look at all we have, there is some Sahelian praying for all they lack. With a click of a button and a dollar each, we can make a difference for the Sahel not to be forgotten.
The Sahel not to be forgotten!