DUBLIN, Ireland, February 26, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello T.D., today meets EU Development Ministers in Brussels to discuss detailed plans to provide development aid to Mali over the coming months.
Up to €250 million in EU funding is available in support for Mali, to restore democracy, peace and human rights, and to ensure that vulnerable communities can access food, clean water and sanitation.
Speaking ahead of the meeting today, Minister Costello said support to innocent civilians caught up in the crisis must be central to the EU’s plan to support Mali in the years ahead.
“The impact of the crisis on innocent civilians in Mali and across the wider region must be our primary concern. Thousands of families have been displaced by the conflict, so we must support them to return to their homes and ensure that they see real gains as a result of our development efforts, including access to health and education services.”
At today’s meeting EU Ministers will hold detailed discussions on the plan to resume long-term aid to Mali, which was announced following their meeting in Dublin on February 12 chaired by Minister Costello under Ireland’s Presidency of the EU Council.
Today, ministers will be briefed by the Malian authorities as well as the EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs and the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva. Ministers will consider in detail a recent EU Needs Assessment Mission, setting out the most pressing needs of Mali’s people and examining how the EU can best support the country’s transition to peace and development over the coming years.
Minister Costello said:
“In the years ahead, the EU is committed to playing a constructive role in supporting the Malian people as they work to rebuild their country. In post-conflict situations such as this, it is very important that the EU takes a comprehensive approach which brings together our humanitarian, development and peace-building efforts.
“Today we will discuss the EU’s plans to prevent further conflict, facilitate reconciliation and prepare for the elections which are due to be held by the end of July under the transition roadmap adopted by the Malian authorities. We will also consider plans to rebuild basic services such as water, sanitation and nutrition programmes, as well as proposals to help relaunch the economy.
“The French Government has made clear that it will not maintain its current military presence in Mali. The operation in Mali is moving now into a new phase where the lead role in terms of the military support for Mali will be taken by the African regional force, AFISMA. As stability is consolidated, the focus can shift more to the political and development tracks and, in time, a more traditional peacekeeping operation under the umbrella of the United Nations appears the appropriate mechanism to assist in maintaining security.”
“With the help of the EU and the international community, great progress has already been made in stabilizing the security situation, bringing a dramatic improvement to the lives of the Malian people. The EU has also provided €116 million in emergency aid since the crisis began last year to meet the most urgent needs for food, shelter and security.”