13 Nov 2019
Sahel gold mines are providing a new source of funding for jihadists and other armed groups and attracting recruits for them in a region where state power is weak, according to a new International Crisis Group (ICG) report published Wednesday.
In Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, “armed groups have seized gold mining sites since 2016 in areas where states are weak or absent. Artisanal gold mining has boomed since the 2012 discovery of a Saharan vein stretching from Sudan to Mauritania,” the ICG said.
Artisanal production currently accounts for almost half of overall regional output, reaching between 20 and 50 tonnes a year in Mali, between 10 and 30 in Burkina Faso and 10 to 15 tonnes in Niger, for an overall annual value of between $1.9 and $4.5 billion.
With clandestine mining offering armed groups a source of substantial cash which could attract potential recruits, the ICG warned that “if left unregulated it risks fuelling violence and reinforcing transnational crime”.
Despite the presence of international peacekeepers, the region has been wracked by jihadist violence which spread from northern Mali since 2012 to other countries.
The jihadist groups use various forms of trafficking to finance their activities while their mining activities can help train their members, notably in the handling of explosives.
In the face of increased gold smuggling, the report said Saharan states should take steps to formalise artisanal gold mining through increased regulation of trade in the metal.
Read more by Agence France-Presse via France24
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