UAE begins military logistics flights to French-led Sahel force
The first Emirati logistics flight to the region took off from Abu Dhabi on Sunday, according to the official WAM news agency.
The UAE will focus on flying out humanitarian aid, while the armed forces of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger - supported 5,000 French troops, 400 European special forces and US intelligence and logistics - battle an insurgency in the region.
UAE Maj. Gen. Saleh Mohammed Al-Ameri, commander of joint operations at the ministry of defence, said his nation would work towards "security and stability" in the Sahel region.
France's Ambassador to Abu Dhabi, Xavier Chatel, thanked the UAE for its support for the counter-insurgency operations in the Central African region.
During the G5 Sahel meeting in February, President Emmanuel Macron said that France didn't intend on lowering the number of troops in the Sahel region.
He then called for "the return of security and services to the populations", also in abandoned territories.
A few days before the meeting, Human Rights Watch issued an appeal for an end to "abuses" by counter-terrorism forces in the Sahel.
The rights group said that "600 unlawful killings by the security forces of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger" had been documented.
"Unlawful killings by soldiers and armed Islamists are fuelling recruitment into abusive armed groups and deepening the security crisis in the region," said Corinne Dufka, Sahel director at Human Rights Watch.
"To reverse the slide, G5 Sahel leaders and their partners must ensure discipline in operations, hold abusers to account, and work harder to prevent further atrocities. Human Rights should be front and centre on the summit's agenda."
Attacks by armed groups have risen in the Sahel region since 2012, first in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger and now threatening Benin and Cote d'Ivoire.
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