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Congresswoman Karen Bass

Representing the 37th District of California

Reps. Bass and Veasey Lead Congressional Black Caucus Foreign Affairs & National Security Task Force Forum on Sahel Region in Africa

November 30, 2017
Press Release
WASHINGTON - Today, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Texas) hosted a forum focusing on politics, security and development in the Sahel region of Africa, which includes Niger, Mali, Chad and Sudan. The region has faced a range of interconnected challenges including extreme poverty, food insecurity, high unemployment, and weak institutions. These socioeconomic challenges have been increasingly exploited by criminal and terrorist groups throughout the region.

"The death of four American soldiers in Niger and the recent exposure of a Libyan slave trade has brought significant international attention to the continent,” said Rep. Bass, who is the top Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Africa. “The social, political, economic and environmental situations have transformed the Sahel region into a laboratory of large scale multilateral assistance programs as governments and the international community attempt to address security challenges.  Now, we are faced with the pressing evaluation of policy. In the absence of clear direction from the current administration, it’s incredibly important for us to put forward ideas in forums like these.”

“I am proud to work alongside Rep. Karen Bass as we continue to drive the conversation on how the U.S. continues to play a critical role in developing the continent of Africa’s economic prosperity, promoting development, and ensuring peace and security. As we continue these forums that underscore the future of U.S. programs and policies in the region, we will continue to remind the Trump Administration that they must develop a long-term cohesive strategy to ensure long-term peace and stability with our partners,” said Congressman Marc Veasey.

The event featured three distinguished panelists; Ambassador Seydou Kabore of Burkina Faso, Kamissa Camara of the Harvard University Center for African Studies, and Linda Etim, who formerly served as the Former Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Panelists agreed that U.S. funding to the Sahel must be part of a broader, long-term strategy and not a knee-jerk reaction to breaking news on the ground. They advocated for the international community to adopt to tackle economic development and especially education, which would help prevent terrorist groups like ISIS from spreading in the Sahel. The conversation was moderated by Vivian Derryck, President and CEO of The Bridges Institute, a nonprofit she founded to help strengthen African governance and leadership.

You watch the full forum here or below. You can view pictures from the event here