BRUSSELS, July 16 (RIA Novosti) -
The European Council on Monday gave the green light for a civilian mission to counteract terrorism and organized crime in Africa’s Sahel region, the council said in a statement.
The mission will kick off in August and is initially due to last for two years, with a budget of 8.7 million euros. Its activities will initially focus on Niger, with the goal of training security forces and providing legal assistance to law-enforcement structures there. The mission could later be extended to Mali and Mauritania.
"Increased terrorist activity and the consequences of the conflict in Libya have dramatically heightened insecurity in the Sahel,” EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said. “European experts will train the Nigerien security forces to improve their control of the territory and regional cooperation."
The mission, headquartered in Niger’s capital Niamey, will be staffed with a team of around 50 international and 30 local specialists. Liaison officers will be based in Bamako (Mali) and Nouakchott (Mauritania).
The Sahel forms a belt with an average width of about 400 kilometers, spanning the African continent from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, between the Sahara desert in the north and the Sudanian Savannas in the south. It runs across the territories of Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Sudan and Eritrea.
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