EU to give 50m euros to new African fighting force

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French President Emmanuel Macron visits French troops in Africa"s Sahel region in Gao, northern Mali, 19 May 2017Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
France's new President Emmanuel Macron paid a visit to French troops in Mali last month

The European Union has agreed to give more than 50m euros to fund a new African joint military force in the Sahel region.

The force will be made up of troops from Mauritania, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso and Niger, known as the Sahel G-5.

Its main mission will be to combat jihadist groups active in the region, as well as tackle trafficking networks and illegal migration.

The Sahel is home to many Islamist groups, some aligned with al-Qaeda.

More than 3,000 French troops and 12,000 UN troops have been engaged in Mali since 2013, when Islamist and Tuareg militants led an insurgency in the north of the country.

The militants were pushed out but they have continued to mount sporadic assaults on peacekeepers in northern and central regions.

The UN peacekeeping mission is one of the UN's most dangerous in decades, with more than 115 peacekeepers killed in four years.

The violence has spilled over the border into Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, with tourists targeted in recent years.

"Stability and development of the Sahel region are crucial not only for Africa but also for Europe," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Monday in the Mali capital, Bamako.

Mali's Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop announced on Monday that the new force would have some 10,000 soldiers and police officers and become operational by the end of the year.