The Economic Community of West African States says no fewer than 14,500 persons have been killed by terrorists in the West African region in four and a half years.
The outgoing President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, who said this during the handover ceremony to the new president, Dr Omar Alieu Touray, said 5.5 million people had also been displaced.
He said, “First of all, the deterioration of the security situation has caused havoc, not only in the Sahel area, affecting Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and the North East of Nigeria, but it soon expanded to the coastal zone, hitting Côte d’Ivoire, Benin and Togo.
“Terrorist attacks and herds of bandits plunged these countries into mourning, with close to 14,500 dead in four and a half years, threatening the peace of rural population, and forcing people to seek shelter away from their home areas.”
The commission, Brou said, had reached out to provide assistance to many of the affected people and victims of natural disasters.
He urged community citizens to remain united and to extend their support to the incoming management.
In his remarks after taking over, Touray called on member countries to continue supporting the commission by ensuring the full payment of the community levy and full implementation of ECOWAS protocols.
He promised a renewed commitment to work diligently for the welfare of the community.
He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for playing a generous host to the commission and other institutions of ECOWAS and providing leadership to ECOWAS’ integration and peacebuilding efforts.
Also, Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Mr Zubairu Dada, assured the incoming president that Nigeria was ready to work with him and give his team every support to ensure that ECOWAS consolidates its position as the best performing regional economic commission in the entire continent