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USA: helping West African countries confronted with jihadists

USA: helping West African countries confronted with jihadists
A Beninese policeman and soldier stop a motorcyclist at a checkpoint ...   -  
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Marco Simoncelli/Marco Simoncelli


The United States is preparing long-term assistance for Côte d'Ivoire, Benin and Togo, threatened by an extension of jihadist violence from the Sahel to coastal regions of West Africa, officials of state security said.

These officials claimed that Western support was also crucial to prevent the progression in the Sahel countries of mercenaries from the Russian private security company Wagner , deployed in particular in Mali - although the colonels in power in Bamako present them as " military instructors.

US Vice President Kamala Harris , visiting Ghana in March as part of growing US efforts in Africa , pledged $100 million over 10 years to build resilience in coastal Africa from the West .

The State Department is also seeking additional funding, including through the counterterrorism budget.

"This is a concern for us because of the capabilities of the governments in place who have never faced such a threat," said Michael Heath, Assistant Secretary of State for West Africa. . "We're trying to see what tools they need," said Michael Heath, who recently returned from a trip to the region with other State Department officials to assess needs. Regarding the Wagner group, "they are not yet present in the West African coastal countries but we know that they are looking for opportunities to take advantage of instability wherever they find it", he said. -he indicates.


US State Department officials believe that the West African coastal areas could only be overrun by violence if there is an overflow from the north into the Sahelian strip.

But they point out that instability can be fueled by local factors and competition for resources made worse by climate change.

"Obviously we want to help governments that are more interested in a holistic approach and good governance to deal with problems in the north (of their territory), where resources are more limited," said Gregory LoGerfo, a senior department official . of State in charge of the fight against terrorism who participated in this trip.

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