The EU, led by France, is boosting its financial support for the G5 Sahel anti-terror alliance to €1.3 billion. The decision was announced at a donor summit in Nouakchott, Mauritania. At the end of the two-day gathering, EU representatives said they would contribute an additional €125 million, bringing the total amount to €800 million, while French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said his country would add additional €220 million for the program.
“Half of this sum is for projects already planned or underway,” Mr. Le Drian told the conference. “The other half will be awarded quickly over the next two years to enable you to meet your priorities,” adding that “terrorism, cross-border crime, drug smuggling and lack of security in the Sahel region are attributed to injustice, marginalization, underdevelopment, absence of education and unemployment among young people.” The Sahel Alliance was initiated in mid-2017 as a joint military force commanded by the five African countries – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. The initiative was launched by the EU and spearheaded by France and Germany.
The region is notorious for the presence of jihadist terror groups whose activity has intensified since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya in 2011. However, the Alliance’s operations have been negatively affected by delays in funding from donors coupled with operational disagreements. There is also mounting criticism that the funds should be directed at economic development as well as security. Much of the EU funding will come from the European Emergency Trust Fund for Africa that was established in November 2015 after an EU-African Union summit in Valletta, Malta, whose goal was to reduce migration to the EU from the Sahel and Lake Chad, the Horn of Africa and the North of Africa regions.