Report approved on troubled African region

22-Oct-2013 @ 17:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Charles Tannock MEP today welcomed the adoption by theEuropean Parliament of his comprehensive report on the Sahel region of Africa.

The Conservative spokesman on foreign affairs in theparliament said: "My concern was to highlight the region's appallingproblems of cruelty, suffering and persecution while stressing that solutionsmust involve working with its people, politicians and other agencies. I ampleased such a large majority of MEPs now supports this roadmap forengagement."

He was speaking after a plenary sitting of the parliamentin Strasbourg voted in favour of his hard-hitting report which throws aspotlight on human-rights abuses, sexual violence and the humanitarian crisisblighting the Sahel region, which encompasses Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad andBurkina Faso.

It called for a coherent strategy to tackle the region'smany desperate problems including radicalisation, female genital mutilation,child labour and child conscription, as well as arms, drugs andpeople-trafficking.

In particular it focuses on the grave disaster witnessedover the past 18 months in Mali, which had previously seen political stabilityand relative peace for a number of years. While the worst of the crisis isbelieved to be over there, Dr Tannock points out that the suffering has farfrom ended with several hundreds of thousands of refugees still displaced andwaiting to return home.

He believes a coherent strategy across the Sahel mustcombine an awareness of human rights with the imperative of boosting security,tackling radicalisation, and clamping down on the trafficking of people, armsand drugs - particularly with regard to the so-called trafficking superhighwaybisecting the region east-west and south-north.

Additionally, it must involve improving governance andthe accountability and legitimacy of state and regional institutions. Thereport advocates the decentralisation of power and boosting the role of civilsociety.

The Tannock report is also the first European Parliamentreport to focus on the situation of human rights in Western Sahara. It has beenacknowledged across the political spectrum for its fair treatment of anextremely sensitive and disputed issue.

Dr Tannock, Conservative MEP for London, said:

"We have addressed the situation of women, childrenand minorities, including child labour, forced marriage and even slavery. Theover-riding message is for the EU to work with local actors to focus onsecurity, stability and human rights in synthesis

" The Sahel which historically was an Africanregion little known to many decision makers in the EU has risen to thetop of the political agenda after the takeover by Al Qaeda linked groups whichprecipitated a military intervention last year to reinstate the legitimatecentral government and now will require EU soft power to nation build in aregion which has little in the way of natural resources and has been prone toconflict, lack of democracy and poor human rights and weak governance"

"Finally, if we can bring different voices togetheron Western Sahara and positively influence the situation there in some smallway, then I hope the report can be considered a success."

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