UN Chief Names Envoy for Sahel Crisis

Posted October 9th, 2012 at 2:15 pm (UTC-5)
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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed a special envoy for Africa's Sahel region who will focus on the troubled nation of Mali.

Former Italian prime minister and European Commission president Romano Prodi was named to the newly-created post on Monday. In a statement, Mr. Ban said Prodi will help shape and mobilize international response to what the U.N. chief called the “complex crisis plaguing the countries and people” of the Sahel.

He said Prodi's initial priority will be Mali, where drought and fighting this year have displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

Speaking to reporters in France Monday, Mr. Ban said “terrorist groups” enforcing Islamic law in the north have committed unacceptable human rights violations.

Mali's interim government and West African bloc ECOWAS are seeking U.N. support for a military mission to Mali that would help re-take the north from the Islamist groups' control.

Groups allied with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb seized control of the north in April after soldiers overthrew Mali's elected government.

The militants have carried out public executions, amputations, and floggings for alleged violations of Sharia, or Islamic law.

Mr. Ban said Monday that more than 200,000 Malians have fled to neighboring countries.