At the invitation of French president Emmanuel Macron, the five countries of the Sahel region that provide troops to the G5 Sahel military force met in Paris yesterday. Together with a group of other countries and institutions that are closely involved in the Sahel, they discussed ways of supporting this force. The Netherlands, which has been committed to promoting security and development in the region for some time, was represented by foreign minister Halbe Zijlstra.
The G5 Sahel force was set up earlier this year by Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger to boost regional security. A significant proportion of irregular migration to Europe runs through this part of the world. The UN Security Council resolution that welcomed the creation of the G5 does not, however, provide for direct UN financing. The UN is therefore calling on the international community to provide financial and material support.
In view of the strategic importance of the Sahel and the G5 force’s role in combating terrorism and transnational crime, including people smuggling, the Netherlands pledged to contribute €5 million at the meeting in Paris.
‘With the contributions by the Netherlands and the other international partners,’ the foreign minister said, ‘the G5 force will eventually be able to assume responsibility for its own security.’
This sum will go towards operational support as well as efforts to ensure that the force respects the rule of law and human rights. This will ensure that transgressors are arrested and prosecuted within the bounds of the law. These are key issues which the Netherlands successfully raised in both the EU and the UN.
The Netherlands’ aid package also includes support for the G5 secretariat and initiatives to enhance information exchanges between the G5 countries.
At the meeting Mr Zijlstra also took the opportunity to announce the Netherlands’ plans to open a diplomatic mission in Niamey, the capital of Niger, in January 2018.