Donors pledge $2.7 bil­lion aid for Africa’s Sa­hel force

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - 25 -

West­ern donors have pledged 2.4 bil­lion eu­ros ($2.7 bil­lion) in fund­ing aimed at pre­vent­ing ter­ror­ism and law­less­ness along the south­ern rim of the Sa­hara.

The up­dated pledge total was an­nounced in a fi­nal state­ment from a donors con­fer­ence in the Mau­ri­ta­nian cap­i­tal Nouak­chott.

“These pledges from our part­ners broadly cover the over­all needs of around 40 devel­op­ment projects to fight ji­hadism in the re­gion,” Niger Pres­i­dent Ma­hamadou Is­soufou told re­porters.

The five Sa­hel states — Mau­ri­ta­nia, Burk­ina Faso, Chad, Mali and Niger — have been strug­gling against ex­trem­ism and law­less­ness in the Sa­hel since an Is­lamist re­volt that be­gan with a Tuareg sep­a­ratist upris­ing in north­ern Mali in 2012.

The Sa­hel Al­liance — which was launched last year and in­cludes the Euro­pean Union, the World Bank, the African Devel­op­ment Bank, the UN Devel­op­ment Pro­gramme, Ger­many, France and six other Euro­pean coun­tries — con­trib­uted 1.3 bil­lion eu­ros, it said in a state­ment.

The EU’S In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion and Devel­op­ment Com­mis­sioner Neven Mim­ica an­nounced a 122 mil­lion-euro con­tri­bu­tion on Thurs­day.

French For­eign Minister Jean-yves Le Drian said Paris would add 220 mil­lion eu­ros.

The five coun­tries had sought 1.9 bil­lion eu­ros to help them fund the Sa­hel Pri­or­ity In­vest­ment Pro­gramme for projects in bor­der re­gions vul­ner­a­ble to ji­hadists.

They them­selves pro­vide 13 per cent of that sum.

Gov­ern­ments hope that with an ar­ray of projects, in­clud­ing build­ing roads, schools and health cen­tres and im­prov­ing ac­cess to wa­ter, they can pre­vent com­mu­ni­ties from fall­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of ex­trem­ists.

Ji­hadism in the Sa­hel has been fu­elled by the chaos that en­gulfed Libya in 2011, the Is­lamist takeover of north­ern Mali in 2012 and the rise of Boko Haram in Nige­ria. Boko Haram have spread to Chad, Niger and Cameroon.

Six peo­ple died and dozens were in­jured in a stam­pede when panic broke out dur­ing a rap con­cert at an Ital­ian night­club, the fire ser­vice said. Me­dia re­ports say the sus­pected use of a pep­per spray-like sub­stance sparked the chaos at the venue in the town of Cori­naldo, in cen­tral Italy. “The cause may have been the dis­per­sal of a sting­ing sub­stance. The young peo­ple fled and tram­pled over one an­other. Six peo­ple died and dozens are in­jured,” the fire ser­vice tweeted.

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