Abuja – ECOWAS and the EU have signed agreements worth 76 million euro (N15.66 billion) to support the African-led International Mission to Mali (AFISMA) and free movement of persons and migration in the region.
The signing ceremony was held in Abuja on Tuesday.
The 50-million euro (N10.30 billion) agreement was signed for the support of AFISMA, while 26 million euro (N5.36 billion) was signed to support projects on free movement in the region.
In his address, Amb. David MacRae, the Head of EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, said the 50 million euro was in fulfilment of the pledge the EU made in January.
MacRae expressed EU’s continued commitment to fighting insurgency in the West African sub-region and reiterated its support to the stabilisation process in Mali.
“ The African Peace Facility has over the years become an important instrument to provide funding to African-led support operations.
“The 50 million euro grant contract we are signing today concretises the pledge made by the EU during the donor’s conference hosted by the African Union in Addis Ababa on Jan. 29.
“Most of the EU funding will cover allowances for the troops and officers and will directly support the deployment of AFISMA,” he said.
The EU envoy also said the organisation was resuming its development aid to Mali, adding that 250 million euro (N51.5 billion) was made available through the European Development Fund.
He said this was in addition to “a further 20 million Euro of fast-disbursing assistance from the Instrument for Stability which will be focused on support for the political process, justice and law enforcement.
“The EU is also committed to sustain and if need be, increase its humanitarian aid.”
MacRae said that EU military training of Malian forces had begun.
He also said that the signing of 26 million euro agreement was in support of a project aimed at improving free movement of persons and migration in West Africa.
He said the objective was to support the effective implementation of the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and the Common Approach on Migration.
“The leading implementing partner is the International Organisation for Migration which is working together with the International Labour Organisation and the International Centre for Migration.
“These three agencies are now ready to start their work under the strategic guidance of the ECOWAS Commission.
The EU envoy also commended the ECOWAS Commission for its decision to establish a finance cell to manage peace support operations, adding that African Union and France had taken steps to technically assist the initiative.
In his address, Amb Kadre Ouedraogo, President of the ECOWAS Commission, commended the EU for supporting development process in the region.
Ouedraogo said that the signing of agreements was an opportunity for both parties to enhance cooperation in other areas of regional integration.
“AFISMA is about to enter into the second phase; the provision of the 50 million Euro has demonstrated EU’s resolve to assist ECOWAS in the management of the crisis in Mali and consolidation of peace in the region.
He added that the signing of the financial agreement in support of free movement of persons and migration would strengthen the capacity of ECOWAS Commission stakeholders involved with migration of regional citizens.
The ECOWAS Commission president also gave assurance that coordinated efforts would be made to ensure the smooth implementation of the funds. (NAN)
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