EU is committed to helping better management of migration in Nigeria and wants to help restoring normalcy to Mali.
The European Union delegation and the Embassy of Sweden in Nigeria on Tuesday approved a grant of about $113.7million (N17.92billion) in support of efforts by the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, to restore normalcy in the crisis-torn Mali and combat the challenge of climate change in the region.
In separate presentations, the Head of the EU delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, David MacRae; and the Swedish Ambassador to Nigeria, Svante Kilanvir, seized the occasion of the on-going 9th annual ECOWAS-development partners’ coordination meeting in Abuja to sign the agreements to formalise the grants.
Mr. MacRae announced a grant of 50 million Euros (N10.25 billion) in support of the African-led International Support to Mali, AFISMA, aimed at restoring law and order in that country and another 26million Euros (N5.35 billion) in support of the free movement of persons and migration policy in ECOWAS.
Similarly, the Swedish envoy, on behalf of the government of Sweden, announced the provision of $6.7million (about N1 billion) over the next four years in support of the strategic programme to reduce the vulnerability of the region to the impact of climate change.
Before signing the agreement, Mr. MacRae commended the collaborative efforts of France, Chad and other European, American and African partners in tackling terrorists into a retreat in the north of Mali, saying the EU is committed to support the restoration of peace and stabilization process in Mali.
He said the EU support would encompass political, military, early recovery and development assistance, while maintaining its humanitarian aid and promotion of human rights and democracy; adding that it has already pledged to help in the implementation of the road map for the transition to democratic and constitutional rule, national inclusion dialogue and free and fair elections.
While challenging the Malian authorities to accelerate the process towards full restoration of constitutional order and political reconstruction, Mr. MacRae said the EU is gradually resuming its development aid to the country, for which 250 million Euros has been provided from the European Development Fund, EDF, and additional 20 million Euros assistance budget for stability.
At the end of March, three months after AFISMA was authorised by the UN Security Council, he said more than 6,000 African troops, including contingents from Chad, have so far been deployed in Mali, saying the 50 million Euros grant confirms the pledge made by the EU during the donor meeting last January to take care of troops and officers’ allowances and direct support to deployment of troops.
He said the 26million Euros grant was to help maximise the potentials of free movement of persons and migration within a more secure and rights-based ECOWAS in the context of the regional integration process.
According to the envoy, the specific objective of the grant is to improve free movement of persons and migration management in West Africa by supporting the effective implementation of the ECOWAS free movement of persons’ protocol and the ECOWAS Common Approach on Migration.
ECOWAS President, Kadre Ouedraogo, thanked the EU and Swedish government for the support, saying they have demonstrated their unwavering resolve to assist ECOWAS in the management of the crisis in Mali and the consolidation of peace and security in the region.
He acknowledged EU’s on-going training mission to build the capacity of the Malian defence and security forces to take charge of the responsibility of defending and protecting their territorial integrity at the end of the international intervention, pointing out that with the advancement of AFISMA into the consolidation and stabilisation phase, ECOWAS would still require EU’s support.
“Free movement of persons remains the bedrock upon which the integration agenda is founded. For ECOWAS to realise the dream of economic growth, regional development and integration, Community citizens’ rights of entry, residence and establishment must be fully guaranteed and migration and labour mobility must be effectively coordinated and managed,” he said.