Senegal welcomes “China’s influence” to help combat Islamist terrorism throughout the country and its surrounding region of West Africa, Senegal Foreign Minister Aissata Tall Sall told reporters at a summit with her Chinese counterpart in Dakar on Sunday.
“We would like China’s influence to be a strong voice in support of Senegal and all the countries involved in the problem of insecurity in the Sahel, so that our forces there have even more legal means to fight against terrorists and irredentism, and we hope that China will accompany us,” Sall said at a press conference on November 28 in Dakar, Senegal’s national capital, shortly after meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi for bilateral talks.
Sall and Wang’s in-person meeting on Sunday preceded the start of a two-day China-Africa summit hosted by Senegal this week due to conclude on Tuesday. The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) is focused on “trade matters as well as security” this year, according to Radio France Internationale (RFI).
“DR Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa are expected to attend the summit in Senegal,” according to RFI.
Senegal is located in West Africa along the continent’s Atlantic Ocean coast. The nation belongs to the African Sahel region, along with neighboring Mali, Guinea, Mauritania, and Guinea-Bissau. The territory also includes portions of other African states including Burkina Faso, Algeria, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, and Eritrea. The Sahel is a geographic zone that spans the width of the African continent along the southern rim of the Sahara Desert. It has suffered from terrorist attacks by Islamist militants since 2015 despite concerted efforts by the United Nations (U.N.) and France to help combat the insurgency. Violent jihadist activity in the Sahel has increased since 2018.
Jihadists linked to Islamist terror organizations such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda regularly target civilians and government soldiers as part of a jihadist insurgency in the Sahel. The campaign has killed hundreds of people and displaced at least 1.2 million more, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The violence has forced over 2,200 schools in Burkina Faso to shut down in recent years affecting “over 300,000 children,” the U.N. reports.
“With Chad’s withdrawal of troops and the imminent reduction in French troop strength from the vast Sahel region of West Africa — where jihadist groups continue to stage attack after attack, targeting civilians and soldiers without discrimination — new anti-terror tactics are afoot,” the BBC observed on September 4.