Saturday, June 26, 2021

France accused of 'covering up' civilians death in Sahel | DW News



 France recently announced that it is ending its military operation against Islamist militants in West Africa's Sahel region. Paris launched 'Operation Barkhane' seven years ago to try to uproot Jihadists from several countries including Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad. 

France says it is not abandoning the region and will retain troops on the ground as part of a wider international force. But critics say the mission was struggling to achieve its goals. Over 5,000 French troops are stationed across the Sahel region for Operation Barkhane. Launched in 2014, its goal was to push back Islamist militants gaining ground and influence. But the mission hasn't made the progress that was hoped for. In Mali, jihadists still control swathes of the country, and the situation remains volatile across the region. 

For some, that's cause to call for France to stay. But many welcome the change. Others say the French mission was always a tall order. It covers a more than 5 million square kilometers across West Africa. Experts say securing such a huge area is almost impossible. Adding to the difficulties, there are also accusations that French troops have killed more civilians than they've admitted. A group of investigative journalists is alleging that Paris is failing to be transparent about the number of civilian casualties.

 A recent investigation on the website, 'The New Humanitarian' says there are many incidences where French troops have claimed to be targeting Jihadists but have in fact ended up killing innocent civilians. For now though the French aren't completely going away. The plan is they'll be part of a new mission that relies more on regional and international partners.

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