The support will also help the G5 Sahel Joint Force get off the ground properly. The Joint Force will comprise troops from Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad, and will operate in all five countries. The initiative is designed to step up action on security, particularly in border areas.
The announcement was made by the High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, who is taking part in the third EU-G5 Sahel ministerial meeting on her first official visit to Mali.
‘The stability and the development of the Sahel region are crucial, not only for Africa but also for Europe,' she said. ‘We are neighbours, and whatever happens on one of our continents has a knock-on effect on the other. We need to unite our forces to tackle terrorism and all forms of trafficking, including human trafficking, and to improve the management of our borders. Cooperation between the G5 Sahel countries is key to shoring up security in the Sahel. The funding for the Joint Force pledged today shows that they can count on our support' added Ms Mogherini. ‘Guaranteeing the security of the region is also a prerequisite for development, hence our additional, parallel efforts to support job creation, training and the health of the local people. We will continue to invest in development in Africa because it is an investment in our joint future.'
Ms Mogherini subsequently took part in a meeting with around 100 young people from the Sahel, the Maghreb, groups from the diaspora in Europe, and young Europeans. The discussion focused on the opportunities that the EU and Africa can offer young people and on how to put young people at the forefront of development in Africa.
The meeting also ties in with the next Africa-EU Summit, to be held in Côte d'Ivoire on 29-30 November, which will focus on young people.
The EU has stepped up its cooperation in recent years with the G5 Sahel countries, i.e. Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad. The last two ministerial meetings were held in Brussels, in June 2015 and 2016. The HR/VP also took part in the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the G5 Sahel in Chad in November 2015.
The EU is a key player in security matters in Mali and in the Sahel through its Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions. EUCAP Sahel Niger (training and advice to help the security forces in Niger tackle terrorism and organised crime), EUCAP Sahel Mali (training and advice to the Malian security forces to ensure democratic order) and the EU training mission (EUTM) in Mali (support for the instruction and training of command staff in the Malian army). Moves are under way to group the activities of these three missions at regional level.
European development aid for the five countries amounts to EUR 2 billion for the period 2014-2020.
The Emergency Trust Fund for Africa has also been mobilised to the tune of EUR 450 million to support additional projects to bolster security, governance, job creation and the resilience of the people affected in key parts of Mali and in the region as a whole.
Fact Sheet: The European Union and the Sahel
Photos available here.