KAMPALA . The European Union (EU) has flagged a Shs7.4 trillion (€uros 1.8b) aid package to foster political stability and equal economic opportunities, especially for the youths, in countries that are a bedrock of illegal migrants.
The emergency trust fund for Africa was revealed at the weekend by the EU commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Mr Neven Mimica, who was in the country as part of his three-country tour of Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya.
The tour was meant to underscore the package aimed at addressing the root cause of irregular migrations of young people in search for better opportunities and in other instances conscripted into jihadist outfits such as the al-Shaabab, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Boko Haram.
Mr Mimica, briefly in Kampala, told journalists the package will also focus on key priority areas aimed at reducing poverty in the country and highlights of the new Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) agenda, that will be adopted by world leaders convening at the United Nations headquarters in New York, later this week.
During his visit, Mr Mimica also held meetings with members of civil society organisations, ministers of Finance, and Works and Transport, where the EU channels its support to Uganda. He also held bilateral talks with President Museveni.
According to the policy blueprint, EU wants to help these countries to tackle challenges of demographic pressure, environmental stress, extreme poverty, internal tensions, and food crises, which often drive young people to seek options elsewhere. Recently, media has been awash with reports of African migrants dying on the Mediterranean Sea during their journey to Europe.
Other countries set to benefit from the trust fund, include Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Cameroon, Chad, the Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal and North African countries of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.
According to the International Organisation for Migration, at least 350,000 migrants crossed the EU’s borders in January to August 2015, compared with just 280,000 during the whole of 2014.
The organisation says more than 2,500 migrants are reported to have so far died trying to make the Mediterranean crossing this year.
The European Union last year, through the 11th European Development Fund, committed another Shs2.4 trillion (€uros578m) to run up to 2020 to cater for infrastructure projects and agriculture.