West African Presidents Pledge US$1 Billion to Fight Terrorism

The head of the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced Saturday that West African leaders pledged US$1 billion to fight the constantly growing threat of Islamist militancy in the Sahel region.

The fifteen state members of the ECOWAS joined by the presidents of Mauritania and Chad met for an extraordinary summit on Sept. 12 in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, to talk about issues related to the increasing insecurity of the region.

“The ECOWAS commission will contribute financially and urgently to joint efforts in the fight against terrorism,” said the Commission’s President Jean-Claude Kassi after the meeting, also announcing that the pledge will be funded from 2020 to 2024.

The funds are expected to help reinforce the military operations of the countries implicated in the fight against violence in the region. Further details of the plan will be presented during the next ECOWAS summit in December.

In his speech following the gathering, Brou pointed out the mounting toll of violence and called on the United Nations to bolster its peacekeeping mission established in Mali since 2013.

“2,200 attacks in the last four years, 11,500 dead, thousands wounded … millions of displaced and economic activity have been greatly affected,” he added.

The U.N. acknowledged in July that Islamist attacks were expanding in such a rapid way, that the region should think of strengthening its response and reaction beyond current military efforts.

Armed groups with links to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State group have been rooting their foothold across the Sahel region over the last years, making large swathes of territory ungovernable and stoking local ethnic violence, especially in Mali and Burkina Faso.

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