For a decade, conflict has impacted the lives of civilians across the Sahel. Violent extremism, transnational crime and illegal trafficking, limited socio-economic opportunity, a humanitarian crisis, limited access to resources, communities’ local conflicts, political crises, military responses to threats and a lack of good governance in the region leaves civilians vulnerable to harm.  

Preventing and mitigating violence in the region requires a joint effort, with much of the conflict occurring in border regions, where state lines are unclear, and the influence of central governance is weak. Civilians face violence from security forces, armed opposition groups, non-state actors, and community groups. The ongoing violence has left over two million people displaced, and despite regional collaboration, harm to civilians continues to increase year after year in the Sahel. In response to the above, Sahelian governments have deployed strategies and actions in response to insecurity at national and regional levels.  

At the regional level, the G5 Sahel Joint Force was formed in 2017 to address current and emerging peace and security challenges. The Joint Force is currently comprised of four Sahelian member countries – Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania, and Chad (follwing Mali’s departure). At the national level, Sahelian governments (including Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali) and West African coastal countries (including Benin and Togo) have declared state of urgency in target regions, increasing military budgets and investment and prioritizing defense and security deployment and operations in response to insecurity. 

Since 2018, CIVIC has been working with the G5 Sahel Joint Force on advancing its Human Rights Compliance Framework, particularly focusing the creation and implementation of a Civilian Incident Tracking and Analysis Cell (CITAC or MISAD in French). CIVIC works with the Executive Secretariat of the G5 Sahel (SE-G5S) and the G5 Sahel member countries to contribute to the reduction of civilian harm in the context of the Joint Force’s operations. Our work involves strengthening the capacities of senior officers, officers, men, and women of the FC-G5S and the associated armed forces of Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Mauritania. After successfully launching the CITAC (MISAD) for the Joint Force in January 2021, CIVIC is focusing on developing capabilities for the protection of civilians and civilian harm mitigation at the national level in the Sahel, particularly in Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali. CIVIC has deployed a regional strategy to engage with regional coalition and bodies to promote and advance PoC with the Sahel, Lake Chad Basin, Accra Initiative, ECOWAS and the African Union. 

In addition, CIVIC works with countries at the national and local levels to advance the protection of civilians and civilian harm mitigation (CHM) through engagement with civil society organizations, deployment of its community-based protection program, and research and analysis on protection threats and opportunities, inclusion of CHM in defense and security forces’ training center curriculum and in support to state formal and non-formal institutions including legislative bodies. 

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