The European Union (EU) pledges €50 million to set up a joint African military force.
Yesterday, EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said that the funds will pay for the troops to fight terrorism, cross-border crime and illegal immigration. Mogherini, who spoke from Mali, said: “Stability and development of the Sahel region are crucial not only for Africa but also for Europe.”
The foreign affairs chief further explained that the money will be awarded to help fight jihadists. “This contribution will arrive very quickly and I hope (it) will set out the right path to other partners of the Sahel G5.”
Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso are collectively referred to as the Sahel G5.
In March, plans were given the green light to create a force of 5,000 troops, which will be comprised of soldiers, police and civilians. But, on Monday, Mali’s foreign minister, Abdoulaye Diop, announced that the G5 leaders decided the complement should 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,” he informed.
In 2012, northern Mali came under attack from jihadist groups who were reportedly linked to al-Qaeda. The group hijacked an ethnic Tuareg-led rebel uprising, but was thought to have been overpowered by a French-led military operation in January 2013.
However, the jihadists continue to carry out sporadic attacks on civilians and security forces in the region.The attackers have also gained ground as their perimeter has expanded to the central and southern parts of the country, oftentimes encroaching on neighboring countries, Niger and Burkina Faso.