$510 million pledged for West Africa's Sahel


The Conference was co-chaired by the European Union, the United Nations, the African Union and the G5 Sahel group of countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger).

An International High Level Conference on the Sahel concluded in Brussels Friday after mobilizing international political support for the Sahel region and pledges of 414 million euro (USD 508 million) to support the Joint security Force of the G5 Sahel.

So far, the United States has pledged 60 million euros to support it. Otherwise, he said, many people in the Sahel had only a choice to die in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe or to die at the hands of militants.

The EU has two security missions in the region - one in Niger and two in Mali.

The force is also to tackle smuggling and illegal immigration networks in the Sahel.

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French President Emmanuel Macron will call for more to be done to support a separate EU train-and-advise mission in Mali, an EU diplomat said, and is seeking 50 more EU troops after Belgian soldiers ended their tour in the mission. The EU and its Member States together contributed to half of the global support of the Joint Force. This new initiative aims to coordinate and deliver aid quicker and more efficiently in the most fragile regions and is open to all the partners of the global community. The UN has a 12,000-strong MINUSMA peacekeeping operation in Mali. Important support was given to the Mali peace process: those that threaten the process can face sanctions.

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said the EU was spending €8 billion in development aid to the region over eight years.

The G5 Sahel force needs more than 400 million euros ($494 million) to be able to meet the demands of its Western backers, up from the 250 million euros it has now.

"We expect in 2018 that we will be delivering more in terms of body armor, counter-IED material, trucks and even a hospital which will be built, we think, in Mali later this year", an European Union official told AFP.