G5 Sahel leaders have said they want France’s military support to continue in the Sahel, to help fight jihadist groups in a meeting to discuss the fight against jihadists and France’s military role in the Sahel with President Emmanuel Macron in Pau.
Currently the French have 4,500 soldiers fighting under the joint G5 Sahel task force which was launched in 2014 to improve cooperation, development and security between Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.
The leaders equally expressed their gratitude to the United States for the support they’ve been providing to the region, adding that they wished it continued.
In 2018 the United States almost doubled its assistance to the G5 Sahel Joint Force member states to about $111 million.
France to send 220 additional to fight Jihadist groups in the Sahel
France will send about 220 additional soldiers to the Sahel region to step up its military efforts in the fight against jihadist groups, President Emmanuel Macron announced Monday to the press after a meeting with G5 Sahel leaders.
“I have decided to improve our combat capabilities in the Sahel. To commence this, 220 soldiers will be added to reinforce Barkhane’s troops already deployed in the field,” Macron said.
The meeting was attended by leaders of the G5 Sahel (President Idris Deby Itno of Chad, President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, President Christian Kaboré of Burkina Faso, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta Mali and President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani of Mauritania), as well as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, African Union Commission President Moussa Faki and President of the European Council Charles Michel.
The meeting was initially scheduled for December 2019, after 13 French soldiers were killed in a helicopter accident in Mali, during an operation against jihadist militants. But that same month, French President Emmanuel Macron agreed with Niger to postpone the G5 Sahel security meeting to the beginning of 2020, after an attack by Islamic militants that killed at least 71 soldiers in the West African country.
More French troops are being sent to Africa at a time when nationals have expressed worries about the growing presence of the troops and other foreign troops on African soil to help fight militant groups and terrorism.
Some of the worries have let to protests against the presence military bases in African conflict ridden countries. In Mali last September thousands took to the streets to denounce the presence of French and other Western forces in their country.