West African leaders on Saturday announced a billion-dollar plan to fight the rising problem of jihadist violence in the region, at a summit in Burkina Faso.
In his opening address, Issoufou Mahamadou, President of Republic of Niger and Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, stressed that the Extraordinary Session on terrorism was convened because it has become a threat to peace, security and stability of the region, threat to democratic institutions and economic development.
“The threat of terrorist and criminal organizations has taken on a strategic dimension because it aims more or less at challenging the existence of our States and territories in their current forms”, he said.
The plan, to be funded from 2020 to 2024, was announced at end of the Economic Community Summit of West African States in Ouagadougou, where the ECOWAS nations were joined by Mauritania and Chad.
ECOWAS had decided to mobilise “the financial resources of up to a billion dollars for the fight against terrorism”, said Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou.
The money, paid into a common fund, would help reinforce the military operations of the nations involved — and those of the joint military operations in the region.
Full details of the plan would be presented to the next ECOWAS summit in December.
The fight against the rising tide of jihadist violence in the region has so far been hampered by a lack of funds.
The G5 Sahel, a joint task force, was created in 2014 to try to tackle the problem, backed by former colonial power France.
From July 2017, it pooled troops from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger in a bid to drive back the jihadist groups.
But a lack of finance, training and equipment, limited their effectiveness and their numbers. For the moment, the force numbers 4,000 troops, when 5,000 were originally planned.