Sahel region: EU hosts high level conference to strengthen international support
The Sahel region faces a number of pressing challenges such as extreme poverty, frequent food and nutrition crises, conflict, irregular migration and related crimes such as human trafficking and migrant smuggling. Violent extremism also poses a serious security challenge to the region and has potential spill-over effects outside the region, including Europe.
EU has supported the "G5 Sahel" group composed of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, since it was set up in 2014, to foster close cooperation in the region. Since then, the EU has stepped up cooperation with this African-led initiative to build a strong partnership on many fronts: from political dialogue, to development and humanitarian support, to strengthening security and tackling irregular migration.
The EU is a strong political partner of the G5 Sahel countries and holds regular "EU-G5 Sahel" dialogues. High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini has held annual meetings with G5 Sahel Foreign Ministers to strengthen cooperation in areas of shared interest such as security, migration, counter-terrorism, youth employment, humanitarian response and long-term development. The EU is also strongly engaged in the Mali peace process.
The EU, together with its Member States, is the biggest provider of development assistance to the region with €8 billion over 2014-2020. It 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. The EU is also a member and key supporter of the newly formed Alliance for the Sahel, set up to coordinate existing EU and Member States development assistance better in the region, in a faster and more interlinked way than before through joint action.
The EU supports concrete regional-led security initiatives. The EU has already provided an initial €50 million to establish the African led G5 Sahel Joint Force which aims to improve regional security and fight terrorist groups. The EU is itself a key security player in the region, with its 3 active Common Security and Defence Policy missions; EUCAP Sahel Niger, EUCAP Sahel Mali, EU training mission (EUTM) in Mali.
Photo credit: AFP / Nicolas Thibaut / Photononstop