March 23, 2012 / 7:58 PM / 8 years ago

EU to train security forces in Africa's Sahel

* European Union also aims to boost food aid

BRUSSELS, March 23 (Reuters) - The European Union agreed on Friday to send experts to Africa’s Sahel region to train security forces, particularly in Niger which faces a growing Islamist threat, and to increase food aid.

The Council said the mission would be deployed by the end of summer 2012 in the region which includes northern Nigeria and parts of Sudan and Darfur as well as Mali - in crisis after a military coup on Wednesday - and Niger.

No further details were available on the size or profile of the mission.

Western concerns over instability in the southern Sahara have grown in recent months, with a spate of kidnappings of Westerners by al Qaeda’s North African wing, and expectations of worsening food shortages later this year.

“The fragile security of the region has been further exacerbated both by a deepening food and nutrition crisis affecting 15 million people and the humanitarian consequences of the conflict in northern Mali,” the Council of the European Union said in a statement.

The EU also said it would provide an additional 9 million euros ($12 million) for emergency assistance to people affected by conflict in northern Mali. The EU has to date provided 123.5 million euros of humanitarian aid to the Sahel.

Separately, it plans to allocate a further 164.5 million euros to development action for food security in Sahel. (Reporting by Daniel Rolle; Editing by Sebastian Moffett and Louise Ireland)

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