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Analysis: The $1bn pledge for West African security

West African leaders have pledged $1bn (£805m) over five years, starting in 2020, to combat Islamist militancy in the region, but some are sceptical it will lead to improved security.

“The enlargement of the circle of countries concerned by the Sahelian crisis is certainly welcomed yet the solutions proposed are exactly the same as those heard for years, which have failed repeatedly,” Yvan Guichaoua, lecturer in International Conflict Analysis at the University of Kent, told the BBC.

Initial media reports suggest that half of the money could come from the West African Economic and Monetary Union, a grouping of the region’s French-speaking countries and Guinea-Bissau.

The other half could come directly from member states of the West African regional body, Ecowas, along with Mauritania and Chad, both of which have been attacked by militant groups.

But it’s unclear how much each country would contribute to the fund and whether they will look for donors from outside the region.

“For now I haven’t seen evidence of either firm commitments or mechanisms to collect that money,” said Andrew Lebovich, doctoral candidate in African History at Columbia University.

“The more serious issues are political – namely disagreements over how to deploy and staff any joint force, where to deploy it, and even an analysis of how best to tackle the insecurity in the region,” said Mr. Lebovich.

In the past four years, there have been 2,200 attacks by various militant groups in the region which have left 11,500 dead and millions of people displaced.

The region’s security forces have been struggling to contain the threat from Islamist groups, some of which are linked to the Islamic State group or al-Qaeda.

This is due, in part, to a lack of resources, despite support from the UN, international forces (mainly the French) and two regional joint forces (G5 Sahel and the Multinational Joint Taskforce).

There is a mosaic or organisations and countries involved in fighting militants in the region

Governments have been saying that they need more money to bolster and better equip their armies, but some argue that too much focus on defence spending could have negative effects.

The charity Oxfam said in a statement that Ecowas should be looking more into political solutions, ones that address deepening inequalities and growing demands for improved justice.

Niger’s president said during the summit that the international community needed to “take responsibility” for the Libya crisis, which he, and others, argue is at the root of instability in the Sahel.

More details on where exactly the money would be spent are expected to be announced at the next Ecowas summit in December.

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Source BBC Africa

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