European ministers have pledged €250m in aid to war-torn Mali during a meeting in Dublin.
The funding will help restore democracy and peace in the troubled African state and ensure that vulnerable communities can access nutritious food, clean water and sanitation.
Joe Costello, Minister for Trade and Development, said the announcement underlines the EU’s commitment to supporting the Malian people during the challenging years ahead as they work to rebuild their country and their future.
Aid had been suspended as a precautionary measure last March following a coup in Mali’s capital, Bamako.
“We will focus on supporting Mali on its journey to peace and democracy and on assisting the thousands of families displaced by recent conflict to access the food, nutrition and basic services they need,” said Mr Costello.
“Under this ambitious response plan, the EU will fund programmes to prevent conflict, facilitate reconciliation and prepare for the elections which are due to be held by July under the transition roadmap adopted by the Malian authorities.
“We will also provide vital water and sanitation facilities and nutrition programmes, in addition to bringing forward new proposals to help relaunch the economy.”
Former president Mary Robinson, three EU Commissioners and 27 of the Europe’s development ministers agreed that the principal goal of the EU will be the elimination of extreme poverty in the world within a generation.
They also discussed conflict in Mali, as well as overseas aid and how to to help vulnerable communities at risk of drought and flooding.
The two-day event, in Dublin Castle, is part of Ireland’s presidency of the EU and was chaired by Mr Costello.
He said preparing for and preventing disasters not only saves lives, but is much more cost effective than responding after the event.
“Greater investment in measures to increase communities’ resilience to crises - such as early warning systems, drought resistant seeds; improved irrigation and social protection programmes – will ensure they are better able to anticipate, manage and recover from crisis in the future,” Mr Costello added.
“We know that this approach works. In Ethiopia, famine was avoided in 2011 because of the social safety net programme and disaster management systems set up by the Ethiopian government and supported by donors including Ireland and other EU member states.
“Today we agreed that we will increase our efforts to build up vulnerable communities’ resilience to disaster by better linking our long-term development and humanitarian work over the years ahead.”