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EU Commissioner Louis Michel proposes a strategy for peace, security and development in the Horn of Africa

Commission Européenne - IP/06/338   20/03/2006

Autres langues disponibles: FR DE

IP/06/338

Brussels/Nairobi, 20 March 2006

EU Commissioner Louis Michel proposes a strategy for peace, security and development in the Horn of Africa

Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, proposed today a strategy for peace, security and development in the Horn of Africa region, while attending the 11th summit of IGAD Heads of State and Government in Nairobi. IGAD, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, is a grouping of seven countries (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda). This strategy should focus, in particular, on regional governance, natural resources management, food security, border control and non-proliferation of small arms.

Around 180 million people live in the Horn of Africa, a region affected by a chronic cycle of poverty and instability. Commissioner Michel proposed to the IGAD leaders a regional pact which can serve as a catalyst for bringing peace, security and development to the Horn, building on mutual interdependency. The strategy builds on the actions taken by the IGAD and the Nile Basin Initiative. It faces challenges common to all the countries of the region such as governance, conflict prevention, religious fundamentalism, nomadic pastoralism, food security, trafficking and resource sharing.

Commissioner Michel proposed to the IGAD Heads of State to build concrete achievements which would create de facto greater solidarity in the region, as the European Union experienced itself. “The history of the EU can be a source of inspiration for the region. The EU has thrived and flourished because it has overcome long-standing rivalries and hatred. Nowadays, your regional political forum, IGAD, has become a central part of the political and security architecture of the Horn of Africa. It needs to be utilised to its full potential. But this requires genuine political will and commitment.”

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement on Sudan and the consolidation of the Transitional Federal Institutions in Somalia are already major breakthroughs in achieving peace in the Horn, although these processes remain fragile.

Among the concrete initiatives worth expanding, Commissioner Michel identified food security and desertification as a major challenge, as the region faces a new cycle of drought and famine. Border control should also be a focus area, as most borders in the region are permeable and illicit trafficking remains a concern. Another key cross border issue to address in this region is the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons.

In the field of peace and security, the establishment of the Eastern African Standby military brigade (EASBRIG) as part of the African Standby force is a welcome development in building African capacities in deployment of military peacekeeping and monitoring operations. The European Commission envisages supporting this initiative should it become fully operational.

The Nile Basin initiative is also a good basis for regional cooperation on natural resources, more specifically, by focusing on the sharing of the waters of the Nile Basin. The Water Facility already contributes for € 18 Million. Furthermore, the Commission is open to consider also the development of hydropower programmes in the Eastern Nile under the EU Infrastructure Partnership Fund contained in the EU Strategy for Africa approved last December by the European Council.


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