July 9, 2020 / 12:59 PM / a month ago

U.S. warns aid at risk unless alleged abuses in West Africa's Sahel region addressed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said on Thursday it was “deeply concerned” about increasing alleged human rights abuses by state security forces in the West African Sahel region and that they must be addressed or else assistance from Washington could be at risk.

The U.S. State Department, in statement, welcomed talks earlier this week held by the leaders of five Sahel nations plus France and Spain over the region that lies south of the Sahara, and urged them to investigated the allegations and hold “anyone found guilty of human rights violations or abuses” accountable.

“The United States has made clear that our assistance to the region must not be used in any way that contributes to violations or abuses of human rights and that without prompt and thorough action to address these allegations, U.S. security assistance may be at risk,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

International and regional powers met on Tuesday to discuss militant attacks in the region, and agreed to intensify a military campaign against Islamist militants.

The United Nations and a group of aid organizations in a report ahead of the five nations’ meeting also described a dark security situation on the ground.

The so-called G-5 Sahel nations comprise Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad - all former French colonies.

Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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