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The Gambia to benefit from $80m EU aid blocked under Jammeh era

The Gambia to benefit from $80m EU aid blocked under Jammeh era

Gambia

The European Union has pledged an initial 75 million euros ($80 million) in aid to the Gambian government, two years after suspending aid due to human rights abuses by former President Yahya Jammeh.

The announcement of the aid package came after a meeting between the EU commissioner for international cooperation and development, Neven Mimica and President Barrow in the capital Banjul on Thursday.

“The visit is a clear signal of the EU’s readiness to provide immediate financial and technical support to the democratic process in The Gambia,” Mimica told reporters after the meeting.

The visit is a clear signal of the EU's readiness to provide immediate financial and technical support to the democratic process in The Gambia.

The government has stated that the aid package would to be used to increase food security, rebuild roads and boost jobs.

The EU in 2015 froze 33 million euros in aid to Gambia, one of the world’s poorest countries, after the former government introduced a tough law against homosexuality in late 2014.

Adama Barrow, who defeated Jammeh in December 2016 election, has pledged to respect human rights and rebuild foreign relations. Jammeh refused to accept the election result and went into exile last month after regional forces entered the country. He is currently in Equatorial Guinea.

Aside this immediate support package, the EU further disclosed that it was preparing a medium-term assistance package of 150 million euros.

Jammeh took power in a 1994 coup and his government was widely reported to abuse the rights of opponents – charges he denied. He repeatedly fell out with the EU, expelling its charge d’affaires in 2015. he also barred the EU observer mission from participating in the last electoral process.

A weak economy and political repression in the West African country has made it one of the continent’s leading sources of migrants trying to reach Europe by sea despite a population of only 1.9 million.

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