African nations and members of the wider international community pledged more than $455 million Tuesday to assist an African-led military intervention in Mali.
Donations pledged at the conference at African Union (AU) headquarters nearly meet the target of $460 million the AU says is needed for the African-led international support mission in Mali, known as AFISMA.
The force will support Mali's army in its fight against al-Qaida-linked militants who seized control of northern Mali following a coup last March.
The money raised at the conference will go into a United Nations trust fund for AFISMA and for training and equipping the Malian army.
Ethiopian Prime Minister and AU President Hailemariam Desalegn welcomed the fundraising effort as a show of solidarity.
“It is in the best interest of all of us to do everything we can to assist this sisterly nation. I hope that the pledge we have made today will be urgently materialized to ensure that the momentum we have gained is sustained until we restore peace,” he said.
Planning for AFISMA began several months ago. African nations have pledged to provide nearly 6,000 troops for the force, and Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso have already sent troops into Mali. France has also deployed more than 3,000 soldiers into the country, who are leading the current offensive against the militants in the north.
Among the biggest donors at the conference, the African Union has pledged $50 million, the European Union pledged $67 million and the United States said it intends to give $96 million by the end of the year, pending Congressional approval.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson, representing the U.S. delegation at the conference, told reporters that the U.S. funds will help train and equip troops from the West African economic bloc ECOWAS.
“Our resources are going to be directed at the ECOWAS troops that move into Mali," said Carson. "We think it's important that these forces are maintained and sustained properly, they should not become a burden on Mali.”
Carson said the logistics packages being given to African militaries will include helmets, flak jackets, uniforms and communications equipment and will be similar to what the U.S. has given to the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia.