UN asks Sahel countries to set up border patrols

Soldiers walk near an United Nations helicopter on December 31, 2013 at a military base in Gao, northern Mali (AFP Photo/Joel Saget) (AFP/File)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - The UN Security Council on Wednesday asked African countries of the troubled Sahel region to set up regional patrols to better protect their borders from organized crime and terror groups.

In a unanimously adopted statement, the council expressed concern for the "alarming situation" in the region, citing groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Nigeria's Boko Haram and Mali's Ansar Dine.

It called on countries to "strengthen border security and consider establishing special units to undertake regional patrols, to effectively constrain the spread of transnational threats in the region."

Originally from Algeria, AQIM fighters were key players in the insurgency in northern Mali and Boko Haram rebels have staged attacks in Cameroon, highlighting the cross-border reach of the armed groups.

Chadian Ambassador Cherif Mahamat Zene, who drafted the statement, said the countries were examining the proposal but that they would not be able to carry out the regional patrols on a long-term basis.