People & Money

US Offers $150 Million Humanitarian Aid to Sahel Region

As part of his trip to the Niger Republic, the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced a $150 million humanitarian aid to the  Sahel Region. Blinken’s visit to Niger marks the first visit of a top American diplomat to the West African nation, one of America’s allies in fighting Islamist insurgents. The visit is also a demonstration of endorsement for the financially disadvantaged country that has achieved considerable progress in quelling insurgent factions and navigating a peaceful transition to democracy within a region susceptible to coups.

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Regarding the new aid, Blinken said, “It will help provide life-saving support to refugees, asylum seekers, and others impacted by conflict and food insecurity in the region.” The aid is aimed at assisting the inhabitants of the Sahel Region, which primarily encompasses nations situated to the South of the Sahara Desert, including Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, and Mauritania, as well as refugees in Libya.

Blinken’s visit is not far-fetched from the US agenda of reestablishing a connection with African countries in light of potential conflict with China and Russia’s efforts in Africa.

With a trading volume of $282 billion with Africa in 2022, more than four times the worth of US-Africa trade, China has emerged as the foremost global power with the most significant influence in Africa. Russia is also making incursions into Africa through the Wagner Group, which now has a military presence in the Central African Republic, Sudan, Mali, and Egypt.

As Nigeria has been battling Islamic insurgents with relatively more considerable success, other West African countries have not been as successful. Nigeria’s northern neighbor, the landlocked Niger Republic, battling ISWAP insurgents from its South, has also been battling Islamist militants from its North. Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Mali have been in a war with Islamist groups mostly linked to Al-Qaeda. The conflict has resulted in the deaths of numerous individuals, the displacement of millions, and the occupation of extensive tracts of land in certain instances.

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Despite the impact of the conflict on diplomatic relationships between some of these countries and Western nations, particularly France, the Niger Republic has achieved a peaceful transfer of power democratically, all while maintaining cordial ties with France and the United States.

According to a senior US State Department official, Niger was making “the right choices,” The official noted to Reuters, “They’re making the right choices, we think, to help deal with the kind of threats that are common across the Sahel. So, we’re trying to highlight a positive example.”

Niger is viewed as a potential ally by the United States, as the Nigerien President has adopted a pro-Western position regarding matters pertaining to Russia, specifically by denouncing the Wagner Group. Additionally, by offering to harbor French troops expelled from Mali, the Nigerien government has endeared itself to the Western powers.

The Wagner Group has been a source of concern for the Western powers considering the bromance between the group and African leaders. A notable instance is when French troops were displaced from Mali in 2022, and mercenaries from the Wagner Group were recruited to take their place.

Also Read: ‘Confounding’: Covid May Have Already Peaked in Many African Countries

Ultimately, Niger Republic remains a significant pawn as global powers seek to forge and repair alliances. The country with the world’s fourth largest uranium reserves is vital to a future without dependence on Russia for nuclear energy fuel.

David Olujinmi

David Olujinmi studies Engineering but his true passion is research and analysis. He writes about finance, particularly the capital market, investment banking, and asset management. More »

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