EU to reinforce aid to Sahel to counter terrorist threat

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - The European Union (EU) is considering reinforcing its aid to the countries of the Sahel in order to enable them reduce poverty and fight against terrorist threats, notably that of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI).

Making the disclosure Monday at the 16th summit of heads of state and government of the member countries of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Pieblags, said poverty in northern Mali and Niger had pushed the desire of some people to join terrorist groups.

"We have in these regions some programmes of development. We are going to reinforce them for them to have an impact on the living conditions of the populations. Besides, we have noted that northern Mali and of Niger are landlocked. We are therefore going to build infrastructures to remedy that situation," said Mr. Pielbags.

The European Commissioner said if public development aid became significant, terrorist groups would lose their capacity to influence the populations of the Sahelian countries.

According to him, the spate of terrorism in the area is not enough to force NGOs to massively withdraw from the Sahelian-Saharan strip, which stretches from Mauritania to Chad, going through Algeria, Mali and Niger.

"Of course there are high risks of the terrorist threat in this region. But at this stage, it is too early to say that NGOs should leave massively," Pielbags asserted.

The Sahelian-Saharan strip has become the epicentre of terrorist activities, particularly those of AQMI, which carries out abductions of western citizens in the Mali and Niger.
-0- PANA SEI/AAS/MTD/BOS 31Jan2011

31 janvier 2011 16:58:29

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