UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to donors to provide more predictable support to the G5 Sahel force fighting to contain West African jihadists.
He spoke while on a visit to Mali, the country worst affected by Islamist militants.
A conference in February of about 50 countries including the United States, Japan and Norway pledged 414 million euros (360.42 million pounds) for the G5 Sahel force, made up of troops from Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.
The force has been planned for years, yet only got off the ground in the past few months as little of the pledged donations appear to have reached the force.
“The international community must understand the need to provide the G5 Sahel countries with predictable support,” Guterres said, after meeting Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga and leaving flowers to commemorate the roughly 170 UN peacekeepers killed in Mali since 2013 – the most endangered UN mission in the world.
“We are working to ensure effective international solidarity by the strength of G5 Sahel,” he added.
The G5 Sahel operation, whose command centre is in central Mali, is projected to swell to 5,000 personnel and will also carry out humanitarian and development work.
Rising violence across Mali, especially in its desert north, has cast doubt over the feasibility of elections scheduled for July 29, in which President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced on Monday he would run.
Islamist militants took over northern Mali in 2012 before French forces pushed them back in 2013.
President Emmanuel Macron of France – Mali and the region’s former colonial power with 4,000 troops stationed across the Sahel – pledged to continue France’s anti-jihadist offensive alongside the G5.