The Council has agreed to reinforce the civilian mission EUCAP Sahel Niger as part of the actions of the European Union to prevent irregular migration.
The EU will offer the Nigerien authorities support in preventing irregular immigration and combatting associated crimes. This would include advice on a related strategy and training to the Nigerien security services. EUCAP Sahel Niger would also have an outpost in Agadez, a major trafficking hub on the road to Libya.
The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Commission Vice-President Federica Mogherini said: “Today the EU confirms that it is taking up its responsibilities, in partnership with key countries and in a comprehensive way. Two weeks after the European Council’s request to increase our support to partner countries to prevent irregular migration flows, we have agreed on reinforcing our presence in Niger: 90% of migrants from Western Africa travel through Niger. Only by working jointly with countries of origin and transit, with the African Union and the UN, we will succeed to tackle the root causes of the emergency while disrupting criminal organisations and helping migrants to escape from them”.
Niger is in a critical geographical location for migration flows to Europe: 90% of migrants from Western Africa travel through Niger on their way to Libya. Half of the migrants arriving irregularly in Italy in 2014 came through Libya, according to the EU’s border management agency Frontex.
EUCAP Sahel Niger already provides advice and training to support the Nigerien authorities in strengthening their capacities to combat terrorism and organised crime. The mission works to promote the interoperability of Nigerien security forces, to develop criminal investigation capacities, to facilitate coordination in the fight against terrorism and organised crime as well as to improve the sustainability of the security forces. EUCAP is embedded in the EU regional strategy for security and development in the Sahel.
Around 50 international experts from 12 EU member states currently work in the mission, which is based in Niamey. Since May 2014, Filip de Ceuninck from Belgium has been Head of Mission.
The decision was taken in the Council’s Political and Security Committee.