US raises support for West Africa force fighting extremists


The US almost doubled its pledge for the financial support of a West African force that began deploying last year to fight a surge in militant attacks.
Assistance to the force that’s known as G5 Sahel will now total $111 million, from an initial pledge of $60 million made in October 2017, Samantha Reho, a spokeswoman for the US Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany, said in an emailed response to questions. The additional amount will help “to meet the needs and strengthen the capabilities” of the unit, she said.
The 5,000-strong regional force started last year to mobilise troops from member nations — Niger, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania — to counter militants linked to al-Qaeda and IS in the Sahel, a semiarid region, stretching across Africa along the southern end of the Sahara. Incidents of extremist violence in the region have tripled over the past year and resulted in the deaths of 895 people, according to a report by the US Defense Department’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies released on October 29.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization warned in a report released in July that the shortage of finance to secure long-term operations, provide training and purchase equipment raises concerns over the force’s “future funding and durability.”

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