Merkel bolsters support for West African states

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Chancellor Angela Merkel promised Burkina Faso and another four West African countries millions of euros in new German aid to fight terrorism in the region and support economic development.

At the start of a three-day visit, Merkel promised Burkina Faso more than 20 million euros ($22 million) and said Germany would send a further 60 million to the G5 Sahel group, to which Niger, Chad, Mali and Mauritania belong.

Western governments, including former colonial power France and the United States, are alarmed by the rise of jihadist groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State in West Africa’s lawless Sahel region.

Merkel, plans to offer German aid of 35 million euros to Niger, aims to stimulate private investment in the region with the funding.

“Africa needs a self-supporting economy,” she told reporters in Burkina Faso, one of the poorer African countries with gross domestic product (GDP) of less than $1,000 per person.

Her aim is to help ease poverty which, along with political instability and violence, encourages many to head for Europe.