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Niger: Italy, Germany, France and Spain sign 100 mln Euros support agreement

BRUSSELS, DECEMBER 15 –  Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, and the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Roy signed an agreement in Brussels with the President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou. The agreement, worth about 100 million Euros, centers on the financial support on behalf of the four EU countries to the African nation in the hope of creating conditions that will stem the migrations flow. Niger is a main transit route for migrants, and 2016 has been a record year for migrant deaths in the Mediterranean, which are estimated at nearly 4,750.

The agreement was signed at the Permament Mission of Germany in Brussels ahead of a European Council meeting in the Belgian capital. Buoyed by the success of its refugee deal with Turkey, the European Union announced Thursday that it has earmarked hundreds of millions in euros for Niger to try to prevent people from leaving Africa in search of better lives in Europe. “The goal is to offer people opportunities and prevent  migrants to travel to Libya”, Merkel said.

Italy expects “concrete results” from the programme, Gentiloni said: “We consider Niger to be the antechamber of migration flows to Libya. Therefore within the context of a policy that needs to take many steps forward, we are now taking a small but
significant one”.

With arrivals in the Greek islands down to a relative trickle, the EU is now looking to stop people from Western Africa moving north to Libya and taking unseaworthy boats in desperate attempts to cross the Mediterranean. As EU leaders gathered Thursday for a summit in Brussels, the European Commission announced that it would provide Niger with 610 million euros ($640 million) in development aid to tackle the root causes of poverty but also to fight human smuggling and boost border controls.

 “It’s unbearable, these dramas happening in the desert and at sea, and Niger is ready to do its part to bring this suffering to an end,” Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou told reporters in Brussels. (@OnuItalia)
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