UN Chief: ‘Do Not Abandon’ Sahel

Posted September 26th, 2012 at 11:55 am (UTC-5)
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United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon has urged nations not to abandon the troubled Sahel region, as it faces rising extremism, human rights abuses and food shortages.

The secretary-general also warned that any military action to deal with Islamist militants in northern Mali should be “considered extremely carefully.”

Mr. Ban spoke Wednesday during a high-level Security Council meeting on the security and humanitarian situation in Sahel.

Later, french President Francois Hollande urged the body to approve Mali's call for a West-African-led force to recapture northern Mali from Islamist militants.

Mr. Hollande told the meeting “the time has come” to act.

Earlier this week, the Malian government and the regional bloc ECOWAS agreed on the deployment of West African troops under a U.N. mandate.

The matter is now before the Security Council for approval.

The U.N. has expressed “grave concern” about the entrenchment of al-Qaida-allied militants and the worsening security situation in northern Mali.

ECOWAS has said it has 3,000 regional troops on standby for possible deployment into Mali.

Militants and separatists took control of the region shortly after a military coup in March.

The U.N. says fighting in the north has displaced nearly 400,000 people this year.