The United Nations says West African nations are making a good start in fighting terrorism in the region. Victoria Cavaliere reports from VOA's New York bureau.
Sixteen West African countries, including Ivory Coast, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, met at the United Nations this week with donor nations and organizations that are providing money and equipment for counterterrorism efforts in the region.
According to the Security Council's Counter Terrorism Committee, terrorists may try to exploit domestic and regional instability in West Africa in order to recruit new terrorists or stage attacks in the future.
Sergey Karev, the officer in charge of the Security Council's counterterrorism committee, says initial consultations on the West African program went well.
"Yesterday's meeting was quite successful because we reached our goals," said Sergey Karev. "On one hand, we received information from West African countries on their technical assistance needs. On the other hand, donors and international organizations informed about their programs and ability of financial resources."
Karev says the regional approach to bolstering security is proving effective.
"For several years we were working on a bilateral basis, we were assisting states, not regions," he said. "After gaining some experience we realized that in addition to this we have to develop a regional approach. Just to mention for West Africa, and not exclusive to it, they have porous borders and they common problems in training and legislation drafting."
Donor countries and organizations are also providing West African nations with assistance in implementing counterterrorism programs and laws, training law enforcement personnel, and improving customs control and border security.
Karev says West Africa is the second regional counterterrorism program, after the Pacific Islands Forum Group. He says there are plans to expand the U.N. program to other regions in the future.
The 10 other West African participants are Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo.