The crisis in the Sahel is serious and multidimensional, and if it continues unabated it could have consequences far beyond the region. As the states of the region are too poor and weak to deal with this on their own, international support is needed. It is therefore a positive sign that the region of Sahel is higher on the international agenda than it has ever been. The challenge, however, is that current international approaches and interventions in the Sahel are more in line with short-term external priorities, such as stopping irregular migration to Europe and fighting insurgencies that have been defined as part of a global complex of jihadist terrorism. There is no doubt that there is a migration crisis in the Sahel and we do need a military approach to several of the insurgencies. However, it must be part of a much broader agenda of humanitarian assistance and development support that is context and conflict sensitive. This policy dialogue addresses the root causes of the Sahel crisis and shows how the situation has evolved over time. The current crisis is deeply rooted in historical circumstances that external stakeholders cannot ignore. The main area of focus for the report is the epicentre of the current conflict, which is located in and around Mali, but which may have several important ramifications for the neighbouring G5 Sahel countries of Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger.