WASHINGTON - The United States has announced plans to spend $110 million annually, for three to five years, to help African nations develop rapid reaction peacekeeping forces. President Barack Obama announced the new initiative at the close of a U.S. summit with 50 African leaders.
From Boko Haram in Nigeria to al-Shabab in Somalia, African countries have struggled to curb violence and deadly attacks launched by militant groups.
Speaking through a translator, African Union chairman and President of Mauritania Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz said the unrest is one of the continent's greatest challenges.
"We are facing major challenges in terms of peace and security: armed conflicts, illicit traffic, organized crime, wildlife traffic, arms contraband, drugs contraband,” said Aziz Wednesday at the U.S.-Africa summit in Washington.
As Obama announced the rapid response peacekeeping partnership, he said it would help countries quickly deploy forces through United Nations or African Union Missions.
"We will join with six countries that in recent years have demonstrated a track record as peacekeepers - Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda," said Obama.
The president said he welcomes an extension of the partnership beyond the U.S. and Africa.
"We are going to invite countries beyond Africa to join us in supporting this effort because the entire world has a stake in the success of peacekeeping in Africa," Obama continued.
Obama said the U.S. also has pledged to provide additional equipment to African peacekeepers in Somalia and the Central African Republic.
The White House says that since 2009, the U.S. has committed to providing nearly $900 million to help strengthen African peacekeeping and institutions.