Violent Insurgents in the Sahel Region of Africa

May 14, 2021

The central Sahel region of West Africa is currently home to an extremely complex and fluid landscape of Islamist insurgent actors that stem from both locally grown and foreign movements. Several violent insurgent actors have been gaining power in the Sahel region, and committing religious freedom violations in the areas they control.

Security challenges in the Central Sahel, compounded by climate change, have yielded a devastating humanitarian crisis with over 15 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, 5 million people facing food insecurity, and nearly 2 million people displaced. In one pocket of this region at the borders of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, growing violent Islamist insurgencies represent one facet of this complex crisis. Groups there are now engaging in violence and targeting individuals based on their religion or belief.

USCIRF recently published a factsheet on Islamists in the Central Sahel region of West Africa. USCIRF Policy Analyst Madeline Vellturo, who authored the report, joins us on the USCIRF Spotlight Podcast to discuss these developments in the Sahel.