Ms Eriksen Søreide is participating at a high-level conference on the Sahel in Brussels today, the aim of which is to mobilise financial and material resources to support cooperation between the Sahel countries in the areas of security and development. The five countries of the Sahel – Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad (the G5 Sahel) – are co-chairing the conference, together with the European Union, the United Nations and the African Union.
‘I am pleased to see the broad international support for the G5 Sahel cooperation. A well-coordinated regional effort is essential for combating transnational challenges such as terrorism, violent extremism and organised crime. At the same time, it is vital that the parties implement and comply with the Mali peace agreement signed in 2015,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said.
Norway has a broad engagement in the Sahel region and is promoting stability and development through financial and military contributions to the UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA), bilateral and multilateral development cooperation, and humanitarian assistance.
The five Sahel countries have established a joint security initiative in the Sahel, the G5 Sahel Joint Force. The Norwegian contribution announced at today’s conference will be used to support the civilian components of the initiative, such as training in international humanitarian law and human rights for G5 Sahel troops and efforts to build trust between the troops and the local population.
The Norwegian Embassy in Bamako was opened earlier this year. The Embassy’s responsibilities include following up cooperation with Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad.
Norway’s engagement in Mali dates back to the time of the drought in the country in the 1980s. Broad cooperation involving Norwegian civil society groups and international partners was established to prevent famine, poverty and conflict in the region. Since then, Norway’s engagement has been expanded, and today includes efforts to promote education, peace and reconciliation, and support for stabilisation and democratisation processes. Norway’s participation in MINUSMA has strengthened the Government’s peace efforts in the region.
The additional contribution of NOK 15 million will bring Norway’s support for the Sahel region to approximately NOK 455 million in 2018. This is an overall increase of NOK 130 million compared with 2017. Norway’s contribution to the UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA) comes in addition to this, as does Norwegian support for the Lake Chad region. Norwegian support for the Lake Chad region totalled around NOK 700 million in 2017 and is expected to remain at a high level in 2018.