ADDIS ABABA: Donor countries pledged $455.5m yesterday to back military operations against Islamist militants in Mali and provide more humanitarian aid.
Malian President Dioncounda Traore thanked the “entire international community” as nations offered cash or support for AFISMA, the key African-led military force, at a meeting at the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital.
AU chairman and Ethiopian leader Hailemariam Desalegn offered his “sincere gratitude” at the pledges, although they fall far short of what the AU say is needed.
Large donations were made — including over $120m from Japan and $96m from the United States — but it was not immediately clear how much was for humanitarian needs, and how much was for AFISMA.
“I am glad to report that the overall amount that was pledged here reached the amount of $455.53 million,” African Union Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra said, after the conference at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia.
In addition to the $455.5m raised in cash — which includes funding for AFISMA, the Malian army as well as humanitarian aid — other aid was pledged in kind, Lamamra added.
However, the pledges miss the $960m target the AU wants, which includes $460m for AFISMA for one year, and a further $356m for the Malian army. It also includes funds for some 2,500 additional troops that west African states have decided to add to AFISMA.
But diplomats said the amount raised was only supposed to enable AFISMA to remain operational until the United Nations Security Council approves logistical support for the force. AFP
Shops looted in Timbuktu
Timbuktu: Hundreds of people looted shops yesterday in Mali’s fabled Timbuktu which has been newly freed from Islamists.
Life in the ancient desert city started returning to normal after French and Malian troops on Monday entered the town which had for months been subjected to Islamic law, but soon a large angry crowd set to pillaging.
They plundered stores they said belonged to Arabs, Mauritanians and Algerians who they accuse of supporting the Al Qaeda-linked Islamists during their 10-month rule over the ancient centre of Islamic learning. The looters took everything from arms and military communications equipment to televisions, food and furniture. AGENCIES