Donors pledge 3.25 billion euros to aid Mali recovery

Large pledges by France, the United States, Britain, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, the Islamic Development Bank and others enabled the West African country to exceed its goal of raising two billion euros.

Donors pledge 3.25 billion euros to aid Mali recovery

World Bulletin/News Desk

International donors pledged 3.25 billion euros ($4.22 billion) on Wednesday to help Mali recover.

The development drive for Mali, one of the world's poorest countries, is aimed at halting a resurgence of the rebels driven out of major northern towns by a French-led offensive this year.

"More than 3.25 billion euros have been mobilised at this conference," French President Francois Hollande told the meeting, organised jointly by France and the European Union.

More than 100 delegations took part in the conference, including 10 presidents or prime ministers.

The EU's executive Commission will allocate 524 million euros to Mali. Large pledges by France, the United States, Britain, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, the Islamic Development Bank and others enabled the West African country to exceed its goal of raising two billion euros.

It needs the money to fill a funding gap in a 4.34 billion euro plan to keep the peace and build infrastructure over this year and next.

EU, French and Malian officials declared the conference a success. "It went beyond what we could have hoped for ... This conference marks a new chapter in the fight of civilization against terrorism," Malian President Dioncounda Traore told a news conference.

French and EU officials said that releasing the bulk of the money was dependent on Mali fulfilling its commitment to holding presidential elections on July 28.

"We cannot wait for the elections. One third of the EU commitment will be financed before, but two thirds depends on the elections," French Development Minister Pascal Canfin told Reuters.

He also said Mali must push through reforms in justice, fighting corruption, public finances and decentralising power.

Mali's implementation of reforms will be strictly monitored by the donors.

"Nothing is a blank cheque, everything is covered by this plan for 2013-2014 and the progress will be evaluated based on the objectives of this plan," Andris Piebalgs, the EU's development commissioner, told Reuters.

Aid group Oxfam welcomed the pledges, but said they should be seen as "a down payment, not a one-off cheque".

Mali continues to suffer a humanitarian crisis, with more than 174,000 refugees in neighbouring countries and 300,000 internally displaced.

Some 750,000 Malians need food assistance and 660,000 children face malnutrition, according to Kristalina Georgieva, the EU's humanitarian aid commissioner.

"At the moment conditions are better in the camps than they are at home," Georgieva told Reuters.

"This is why this focus on the early recovery of basic services is so crucial. As long as people live better in the camps than they live at home, they're not going to go back."

Last Mod: 16 Mayıs 2013, 10:59
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