International Donors Pledge over $500 Million for Sahel Force

African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat holds a joint news conference after an international High Level Conference on Sahel in Brussels

International Donors Pledge over $500 Million for Sahel Force

"The EU and its Member States contribute to these 414 million euros with a total 176 million euros", Mogherini said, as quoted by the European External Action Service (EEAS) speaking about the need to back the response of the G5 Sahel group to the security challenges, including terrorism.

The EU uses all its tools to support development efforts in the region, notably the "EU Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa" under which €843 million has been committed so far.

European leaders on Friday doubled their funding for a joint African force tackling jihadists in the Sahel at an worldwide conference in Brussels, as fresh violence highlights the region's fraught security situation.

The G5 Sahel force needs more than 400 million euros ($494 million) to be able to meet the demands of its Western backers, up from the 250 million euros it has now.

Opening the conference, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said "security and development must go hand in hand" in the Sahel, an area nearly as big as the EU where a fifth of the population do not have reliable food supplies.

While the deaths of four USA soldiers in October in Niger have highlighted the security threat, public awareness is low.

The pledges came at a summit in Brussels of 32 leaders and 60 delegations to show political, development and security support for Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

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France, which has more than 4,000 troops in the region, hopes to reach at least 300 million euros in military aid on Friday to overcome financing problems for the force that was first proposed in 2014, while militants have scored military victories in West Africa.

The United States has some 800 troops in Niger, where four US soldiers died in October, but global awareness of the security importance of the vast, desert region remains low. Partners such as France, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and the European Union have already announced their contributions which will be added to the 10 million euros (6.650 billion CFA francs) expected from each of the five member countries.

The G5 Sahel operation, whose command base is in central Mali, is to swell to 5,000 personnel from seven battalions and will also engage in humanitarian and development work.

The European Union is investing 8 billion euros in development aid in the region, according to EU data.

Two French soldiers were killed in Mali earlier this week when their vehicle hit a mine. Important support was given to the Mali peace process: those that threaten the process can face sanctions.

France has been frustrated that it is the only European Union member with combat troops on the ground, although others have contributed trainers.

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