European Union has agreed to give more than 50m euros (56,077,750 USD) to fund a new African joint military force in the Sahel region, reports EURACTIV.
The funds will help an African army of troops from Mauritania, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso and Niger, known as the Sahel G-5, to fight terrorism, cross-border crime and illegal immigration, European Union diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said in the Mali capital Bamako.
“Stability and development of the Sahel region are crucial not only for Africa but also for Europe,” said EU diplomat Mogherini.
A force of 5,000 troops to form the Sahel G5 was approved in March, made up of soldiers, police forces and civilians. However, on Monday Mali’s foreign minister announced leaders of the five nations had decided this number would be doubled.
“The heads of state of the Sahel G5 who met in Riyadh just a few weeks ago decided to bring the number from 5,000 men to 10,000 men. This really shows their engagement because this is a vast area,” Abdoulaye Diop said.
The UN peace keeping mission in Mali, is the most dangerous for the organization in decades, with over 115 peacekeepers killed over four years. Islamist and Tuareg militants have caused chaos in the country since 2012 and have now spilled to Burkina Faso, Niger and Cote d’Ivoire, according to AFP.
The new force is expected to become operational at the end of this year and will reinforce the French and UN peacekeeping troops already stationed in the region that have been fighting the militants for the last couple of years.
“In the long term it’s a building block for the day when the UN forces and potentially the French deployment in Sahel are withdrawn in several years’ time. The hope is by that stage the Sahel countries will have a strong enough military capacity of their own,” Paul Melly, a fellow of the Africa program at the London-based think tank Chatham House, said in an interview with DW.