African leaders meet in Addis Ababa this weekend for the 33rd annual African Union summit under the theme ‘Silencing the Guns.’
Despite progress in a few countries, the African Union (AU) has fallen short of its target to bring peace to the continent by 2020.
Making the commitment seven years ago, the bloc must this weekend face the reality that insecurity and warfare continue to blight many corners of the African continent.
There have been more than 55,882 grave violations against children – including killings, mutilations or sexual assault – in conflict areas in Africa between 2014 and 2018, according to analysis by Save the Children.
The NGO voices concern over the increase in incidents since the AU committed to peace in 2013, and the fact that the number of child soldiers has more than doubled in Africa over the past five years.
Though last year saw positive developments in Sudan and the Central African Republic, protracted conflicts in Somalia, Mali, Libya and Nigeria continue to test the resources and military capabilities of already shaky governments.
In West Africa, the rising islamist insurgency in Burkina Faso has added to instability in the Sahel region which threatens to spread even further if not contained.
Despite a near ten-year intervention in Mali, led by the UN’s peacekeeping force MINUSMA and France’s Operation Barkhane which has more than 4,000 troops stationed in neighbouring Chad, critics argue the jihadist presence in the north of the country remains much the same.
A recent Al-Shabaab attack on a US airbase in northern Kenya also points to the worrying resurgence of Somalia’s feared terrorist organisation.
The group appears to be changing its tactics and launching more attacks while the AU-led AMISOM force has struggled to contain the insurgency since it entered Somalia in 2007.
The International Crisis Group recommends that South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, the incoming AU chair, should use the annual meetings to “spur African leaders to tackle the continent’s deadliest crises”.
In a report released today, the research group sets out eight priorities which include averting electoral violence in Guinea, Ethiopia and Côte d’Ivoire, supporting Sudan’s transition to democracy and pushing for inclusive dialogue in Cameroon.