UNITED NATIONS – Five African nations putting together a 5,000-strong force to fight the growing threat from extremists in the vast Sahel region are appealing to the international community for money, military equipment and logistical support.
U.N. Ambassador Issa Konfourou of Mali, speaking on behalf of the five countries, said Tuesday that the latest "cowardly, barbaric" attack in Burkina Faso and a "terrorist attack" in Mali underscore the importance and urgency of deploying the force.
The leaders of Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad agreed in February to set up a joint force.
Konfourou told the U.N. Security Council that the first units will deploy in October and all battalions should be on the ground by March 2018.
U.N. Assistant Secretary-General El-Ghassim Wane called the situation in the Sahel "dire."