Nouakchott (Mauritania), Dec 7 (AFP) Western donors said Thursday they have pledged 2.4 billion euros (USD 2.7 billion) in funding aimed at preventing terrorism and lawlessness along the southern rim of the Sahara.
The updated pledge total was announced in a final statement from a donors conference held in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott.
The five Sahel states -- Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Niger -- have been struggling against extremism and lawlessness in the Sahel since a jihadist revolt that began with a Tuareg separatist uprising in northern Mali in 2012.
The Sahel Alliance -- which was launched last year and includes the European Union, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the UN Development Programme, Germany, France and six other European countries -- contributed 1.3 billion euros, it said in a statement.
The EU's International Cooperation and Development Commissioner Neven Mimica annnounced a 122 million-euro contribution on Thursday.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Paris would add 220 million euros.
The five Sahel countries had sought 1.9 billion euros to help them fund the Sahel Priority Investment Programme (PIP) for projects in border regions vulnerable to jihadists. They themselves provide 13 per cent of that sum.
Governments hope that with an array of projects, including building schools and health centres and improving access to water, they can prevent communities from falling under the influence of extremists.
The extremists were largely driven out of Mali in a French-led military operation launched in January 2013.
The France-backed fledgling African regional force fighting jihadists is also suffering from lack of funding, and shortfalls in equipment and training have led to delays in its operations.
As well as fighting terrorism it tackles smuggling and illegal immigration networks that operate in these vast, remote areas on the Sahara's southern fringe.
A devastating attack in June on the force's headquarters in Mali, claimed by an al-Qaeda-linked group, destroyed the communications room, forcing a brief halt in operations. (AFP) IND
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