EU pledges €200m to help Mauritania clamp down on illegal migration

The European Union has unveiled €210 million in aid to help Mauritania crack down on people smugglers and deter migrant boats. The move comes amid a spike in the number of people attempting the dangerous Atlantic crossing from West Africa to Europe.

On a visit to the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott, EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and Spain's Pedro Sanchez met President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani for talks focused on border controls and economic development.

"To help Mauritania face challenges in the areas of migration management, forced displacement, as well as security and development, the EU intends to strengthen its financial support," they said in a statement, adding the EU's Frontex border agency would play a role.

Sanchez also announced €200 million of financial support from Spain over the next five years to facilitate the development of green hydrogen projects in collaboration with Spanish companies.

European elections

Migration is set to dominate debate in June's European Parliament elections amid growing anti-immigration rhetoric from right-wing parties.

Mauritania's strategic importance is growing due to the increased migration pressures and instability in the Sahel region.

About 83 percent of the dinghy boats making it to the archipelago departed from Mauritania, say Spanish officials.

That followed a record number last year who attempted to reach Europe via the Spanish archipelago, which is located off the African coast.

(with Reuters)

Read more on RFI English