ISIS leaders fleeing the Middle East are planning to drive migration from Africa in a fresh bid to send jihadists into Europe, a senior UN figure has warned.
The militants are joining forces with fanatics in Africa’s Sahel region, according to David Beasley, head of the UN World Food Programme and a former Republican governor of South Carolina.
He warned terror factions could then exploit the area’s food crisis to push millions from the region in a migration wave that could dwarf the exodus from war-torn Syria in 2015.
‘My comment to the Europeans is that if you think you had a problem resulting from a nation of 20 million people like Syria because of destabilization and conflict resulting in migration, wait until the greater Sahel region of 500 million people is further destabilized,’ Mr Beasley said.
ISIS leaders fleeing the Middle East are planning to drive migration from Africa in a fresh bid to send jihadists into Europe, a senior UN figure has warned. Pictured: Refugees waiting to be rescued off the Libyan coast in August last year
‘And this is where the European community and international community has got to wake up,’ he told the Guardian’s Daniel Boffey.
Mr Beasley warned that the likes of Boko Haram and al-Qaeda are partnering with ISIS commanders who have fled from Syria in recent years and that extremists will ‘continue to infiltrate and destabilise in the hope of creating migration into Europe where they can infiltrate and cause chaos.’
The Sahel spans 3,360 miles from the Atlantic in the west to the Red Sea in the east in a belt stretching up to 600 miles wide.
Countries in the region include parts of Senegal, southern Mauritania, central Mali, northern Burkina Faso, the extreme south of Algeria, Niger, and the extreme north of Nigeria
In the past, David Beasley (pictured) has argued that a comprehensive plan for economic development could be the key to long-term stability and increased food security in the Sahel region
It also includes central Chad, central and southern Sudan, the extreme north of South Sudan, Eritrea, Cameroon, Central African Republic and the extreme north of Ethiopia.
He has said that the World Food Programme sees food as ‘a weapon of peace, as a weapon of reconciliation, as a weapon for sustainable development. But we must get our act together. We must think holistically and not in our own silos.’
During the meeting, International donors pledged $4.4 billion in aid for 2018 for civilians caught up in the Syrian civil war – well short of what the UN says is needed for humanitarian work in Syria and neighbouring countries.
The sum committed at a two-day conference in Brussels was less than half of the $9 billion the United Nations says is needed this year to help those in need inside Syria and living as refugees in neighbouring countries.
Mr Beasley warned that without proper funding he would be forced to start cutting rations ‘to just barely keep people alive’.
Some 6.1 million people are now internally displaced in Syria, more than five million have fled the country and 13 million including six million children are in need of aid, according to the UN.
More than 700,000 people have been displaced since the start of this year alone as Assad has stepped up his offensive against rebel forces, intensifying the humanitarian crisis.
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