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