Plenary speech on human rights and the Sahel region

Marietje Schaake − Mr President, despite the challenges at home, the EU risks becoming too inwardly focused, even though events in the rest of the world matter for our security and prosperity. The Southern Neighbourhood is in the middle of a crucial transition and these events cannot be seen in a vacuum. A crisis is looming in the Sahel region which risks having enormous spillover effects into the already fragile North African region all the way down to Nigeria, which is facing instability every day. After the conflict in Libya, weapons flowed through the Sahel region way too freely, adding to the complex and intertwined problems of terrorism and extremism, poverty and organised crime, such as trading drugs, weapons and people. Ordinary people, especially women and children, are the first to suffer, and they deserve our attention. We need to work together with the African Union, the UN and ECOWAS to speed up the implementation of the various components of the EU strategy for security and development in the Sahel. We support the Council’s commitment to contribute to the development of a peaceful, stable region where food security is guaranteed.