EU to resume Mali aid and hold donor summit
Mali has received a boost from EU ministers who announced a donors’ conference and the resumption of development aid for the war-torn state.
The donors’ conference will take place in April or May to raise money for Mali, which has been “neglected for a long time”, said European development commissioner Adris Piebalgs, after a two-day meeting in Dublin. “There are no roads, no sufficient social service provision” and it was vital to “make Mali stable”.
Ireland would make a contribution at the conference but the amount had yet to be decided, said junior minister for development Joe Costello. Ireland has so far given more than €10 million in humanitarian aid to Mali.
The overall amount being sought at the donors’ conference had also not been decided but a big effort was important to prepare the conference so sufficient funds would be pledged, officials said.
The EU’s development aid programme to Mali, worth up to €250 million, was resumed yesterday after it was suspended last March following a military coup.
A power vacuum created by the coup prompted Tuareg rebels and Islamist extremists to take over most of the country, leading to the current crisis.
EU defence ministers meeting in Dublin today are discussing an EU mission to train local Mali forces. Ireland is among the countries expected to participate.
Development ministers also set a target yesterday of eliminating extreme poverty within a generation. The plan is part of the attempt to set new targets beyond 2015 to progress the Millennium Development Goals, which aim to help the developing world.
Mr Costello said development ministers discussed the EU’s budget, agreed last Friday in Brussels, which would slightly increase the EU’s overall spending on aid.
It was vital EU member states lived up to their commitments to give 0.7 per cent of the gross national product to developing countries, said Mr Piebalgs.
“While the EU budget deal protected existing aid spending, the global challenges of poverty, climate change and conflict needs a better funded, multidimensional response that goes beyond aid,” said Hans Zomer, director of Dóchas, an umbrella group for aid agencies.