By Sebastian Engel and Michael Fischer, dpa
Berlin (dpa) – Germany has pledged an extra 100 million euros (116 million dollars) in emergency aid to the countries of the Lake Chad region, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday in Berlin.
The humanitarian aid up to 2020 comes on top of 40 million euros already earmarked to aid political stability in 2018 and 2019, as well as 220 million euros of investment in ongoing development projects, Maas said.
He said the payments were in the interests of European security. “We stand together so that the Lake Chad region … does not turn into a hub for terrorism, crime and people smuggling,” he said.
In quotes carried by newspapers belonging to Germany’s Funke Mediengruppe, Maas described the difficulties facing the region as “one of the biggest humanitarian dramas of our time.”
The region has “become a stomping ground for groups like Boko Haram and IS [Islamic State], which are also a threat to our security in Europe,” he said.
“We can’t just look away while the neighbours of our neighbours are being destabilized.”
The countries of the region include Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. Around 2.3 million people are displaced and more than 10 million people are dependent on humanitarian aid in the region, according to the German Foreign Ministry.
Maas’ comments to the media came shortly before the beginning of a two-day conference starting on Monday in Germany aimed at stabilizing the crisis-ridden Lake Chad region.
In addition to hosts Germany, the countries of Nigeria and Norway as well as the United Nations are acting as co-hosts to the event.