WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The United States has allocated $60 million in additional assistance to support counterterrorism efforts in Africa’s Sahel Region, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced in a statement on Monday.
“Defeating terrorism depends on making sure terrorist organizations cannot have safe havens on any continent,” Tillerson said. “To that end, pending consultation with Congress, the United States is today pledging up to $60 million dollars to support the G5 Sahel Joint Force’s counterterrorism efforts."
According to Tillerson, the money would bolster the US' African partners in their fight to combat the Islamic State (banned in Russia) terror group and other terrorist networks in order to ensure security and stability in the region.
"This is a fight we must win, and these funds will play a key role in achieving that mission," he said.
The Group of 5 Sahel is a regional bloc consisting of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. Earlier this year, the five countries, backed by France, launched a multinational force aimed at fighting terrorists in the Sahel region. The initiative has been supported by the United Nations.
"While I regret I cannot personally attend today’s meeting at the United Nations on ensuring security in the Sahel, I thank Foreign Minister Le Drian for his invitation, and commend France and all our other partners’ eagerness to win this fight," Tillerson said. "I have asked UN Ambassador [Nikki] Haley to represent the United States and our full commitment to security in the Sahel region in my place."
Among all Sahel countries, Mali has been hardest hit by the outbreak of terrorism and instability, as it has been in turmoil since the 2012 military coup, which was triggered by the government's failure to deal with a separatist Tuareg uprising in the country. Following the coup, various Islamist groups were attracted to the country, including al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, outlawed in Russia.
The United Nations has been running a stabilization mission, MINUSMA, in the turbulent African country since 2013 to counter Islamist militants.