European Union mobilizes intlآ'l support for Sahel region

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The 5,000-strong G5 Sahel force joins a number of security efforts that include France's largest overseas military operation, a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali and about 800 US troops in Niger, where four soldiers were killed in an October ambush. Security and development must go hand in hand. "To do so, we must continue to mobilize all the instruments we have at our disposal". In 2017, the five African nations launched a multinational force aimed at fighting terrorists in the Sahel region and this initiative had been supported by the global community. The EU and its Member States together contributed to half of the worldwide support of the Joint Force. France has more than 4,000 troops in the region. The EU is also a member and key supporter of the newly formed Alliance for the Sahel, set up recently to coordinate existing EU and Member States development assistance better and faster in the region.

United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, said that he signed today together with the UN and the G5 Sahel the arrangements that will enable us to commit UN support to the G5 Sahel Force.

Mogherini said the European Union was spending 8 billion euros in development aid in the region over eight years.

Sahel force is made up of troops from Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania and is part of a broader effort to stop migrants and militants.

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"Peace has no price, peace is made with financial support" Mogherini said.

"We expect in 2018 that we will be delivering more in terms of body armor, counter-IED material, trucks and even a hospital which will be built, we think, in Mali later this year", an European Union official told AFP. Since then, the European Union 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.

Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou said there was an urgent need for action: "We have to act resolutely to change the face of the Sahel region or risk seeing this region of the world fall irreversibly into chaos and violence".

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