West and Central Africa

Situation Report

Regional CMCoord training to address civil-military coordination challenges of humanitarian contexts in the Central Sahel

The security and humanitarian situation in the Central Sahel have deteriorated significantly over the last few years. In Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, several complex and fast-growing crises are developing with unprecedented levels of armed violence, insecurity, and displacement. Thousands of civilians have been killed, and hundreds of thousands forced to flee their homes. While access to affected populations is challenged by the deteriorating security situation, humanitarian needs are substantial and growing fast. In addition, insecurity and forced displacement are destroying the social fabric of communities and disrupting basic social services and governance. Food insecurity and human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence, are on a sharp rise.

Given the increasing complexity of humanitarian contexts, where national disaster actors, civil protection, humanitarian organizations, and their partners operate in parallel with a robust military presence, enhanced humanitarian civil-military coordination (CMCoord) training is critical to uphold humanitarian principles and preserve the humanitarian operating environment. As such, gathering national, regional, and international humanitarian, development, and peace actors is essential to enable them to learn to coordinate with each other and to uphold humanitarian principles for a sustainable and lasting impact on humanitarian response operations.

Additionally, on 20 October 2020, the High-level Ministerial Round Table on the Central Sahel “reaffirmed full support to the humanitarian actors that are operating under exceptionally challenging and difficult conditions on the ground and stressed the need to sustain humanitarian assistance while also working towards lasting solutions to the challenges that drive the crisis”. UN-CMCoord, the essential dialogue and interaction between civilian and military actors in humanitarian emergencies that is necessary to protect and promote humanitarian principles, is essential in supporting these goals.

Thanks to funding from the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO), OCHA’s Civil-Military Coordination Service (CMCS) and Regional Office for West and Central Africa (ROWCA), organized the first regional CMCoord training to focus on the Central Sahel and held in French. The training was held in Saly, Senegal, from 21 to 25 June 2021 and was uniquely tailored to the Central Sahel context. Participants represented both civilian and military perspectives, to better enhance regional knowledge on CMCoord, but also to learn from each other. Officers from national forces and the multinational G5 Sahel Joint Force attended the course, joining civilians from a range of humanitarian non-governmental and international organizations including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and UN agencies.

The five-day training course pursued the following goals:

-         Develop a comprehensive knowledge base on UN-CMCoord and related concepts to apply guidance, tools, and policies in field operations.

-         Utilize UN-CMCoord concepts to advance collaboration between humanitarian, development, and peace and security partners.

-         Troubleshoot day-to-day challenges to sustain effective coordination with UN-CMCoord stakeholders.

-         Enhance the dialogue between humanitarians and armed actors for a principled humanitarian response, in support of humanitarian access and protection outcomes.

-         Develop alternative strategies to the use of armed escorts for humanitarian assistance, including measures for the safety and security of aid workers.

The training in Senegal is the first in a series of planned training sessions. Other five-day training sessions are planned in the Sahel individual countries including Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. Additionally, the first Training of Trainers “CMCoord Workshop for Military Training Professionals” is planned for October 2021 and will be designed specifically for the Sahel region context.