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Sahel Counterterror Force Lacks Funding

FILE - A Tigre helicopter of France's Barkhane mission in central Mali is seen as the G5 Sahel anti-jihadist force began operations Nov. 1, 2017.

Burkina Faso's foreign minister says a new counterterrorism force for Africa's Sahel region needs substantially more funding to operate.

The G5 Sahel force was formed to enable Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Chad to defend themselves against Islamist militant groups that operate in the region, such as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and Boko Haram. It was authorized by U.N. resolution 2509, which was agreed upon by France and the United States after intense negotiations.

Alpha Barry told VOA's French to Africa service that the G5 Sahel force has received only a quarter of the estimated 423 million euros, or $500 million, it needs for annual operations.

"To date, we only gathered 108 million euros. The European Union has donated 50 million euros; France, 8 million euros; and 10 million euros each [from] Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania and Chad. The current gap is important," Barry said Thursday on VOA Afrique.

Barry said $60 million in pledged U.S. aid will go to militaries in the region, not the G5 force.

Leaders of the region are counting on a meeting December 14 in Brussels to persuade donors, particularly the Gulf countries, to commit to financing the G5 Sahel.

"This is a major step toward closing our budget. We call for a strong mobilization of the United States, in particular. If terrorism is not defeated in our countries, it will be a threat to the world," Barry said.