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Sahel Conference in Brussels


Heads of state of Burkina Faso, Mali, Belgium, Mauritania and Chad together with the King of the Belgians – Picture by Belgian Monarchy.

Friday, 23 February 2018, Brussels: In the framework of the Sahel international donors conference, His Majesty King Philippus of the Belgians, hosted a luncheon for his fellow heads of states benefitting from the international aid. Namely the presidents of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, and Chad, General Idriss Déby.

The conference was focused on finding common solutions for local development, fighting terrorism, illegal migration as well as strategies for sharing intelligence and defence units. All in all, this high-level meeting resulted in €414 million being pledged to support the 5,000-strong G5 Sahel Joint Force, that is, a military partnership amongst Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad designed to fight terrorism and organised crime in the region.

The Sahel region, a semi-arid stretch of land that stretches from Senegal to Sudan and further east to Eritrea, has long been a base of Islamic extremist groups. In the last few years the region’s problems have been exacerbated by severe drought and the worsening military conflict in Libya.

Many of the region’s residents have become part of the uncontrolled flow of migrants that have flooded into Europe via the Mediterranean since the summer of 2015.

Belgium, France, and Germany have provided significant financial and security assistance to the Sahel region and the G5 Security forces. Paris has long taken a lead role, having deployed more than 4,000 crack troops and hi-tech military equipment to the region as part of its pan-regional Operation Barkhane anti-terror mission. The three EU stalwarts view the region as a potential threat to their own security and a source of radical terrorism.

After its creation in 2014, with the support of the UN, the funding and operational capacity of the G5 Sahel Joint Force remains unclear as it remains heavily dependent on international support.

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