Italian Minister Frattini in Africa: food security agreement in Mauritania

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Flag of Mauritania
Flag of Mauritania

More food and more access to food for the hungry in East-Central Mauritania, the country’s most vulnerable region. This is the goal of the food security agreement signed in Nouakchott by Minister Franco Frattini and his Mauritanian colleague Naha Mint Mouknass.

More than 4.5 million euro to help the Saharan populations in East-Central Mauritania confront food crises, not least by investing in microprojects selected by baseline organisations such as cooperatives and associations. In a country 80% of whose territory is desert and with 1% cultivatable land, the project, which will be operational as of February 2010, is aimed at the Arab populations in the east-central region “traditionally neglected by international donors”, as Director General for Development Cooperation Elisabetta Belloni underscored, adding that the goal was also the greater involvement of women.

Minister Frattini’s visit to Mauritania, the first ever by an Italian foreign minister, had been scheduled for a long time, but the planned agenda focus on economic trade and strengthened cooperation had to be hastily shifted to the urgent need to free the two Italians kidnapped by al-Qaeda on 18 December. The minister stressed that he would “do what he could”, confirming the support of “all the highest State authorities in the region, beginning with Mauritania”. And in his meetings in Nouakchott, he added, there was also talk of an Italian contribution to the training of members of the Mauritanian army and border police in order to fight terrorism more effectively.

The presence of al-Qaeda groups in the Maghreb region, Frattini pointed out, “is a danger for Italy and a danger for Europe”. “There are terrorist organisations much closer to Europe than those in Afghanistan”, he explained, “and surely the fight against terrorism in the Sahara and across the entire area stretching from the Maghreb to Sub-Saharan Africa, requires the collaboration of all countries”.

The Minister underscored that “there is a reflection under way on the organisation of a summit of all the countries concerned, reflections that have not yet been translated but that I hope will translate into a major African Counter-terrorism Conference”.

Source: Italy – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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