Abidjan – Ivory Coast said on Monday it would spend around $430 million in a three-year campaign to support young people in border regions at risk from Sahel jihadists.
“As part of the fight against vulnerability in northern areas, particularly the six regions bordering Burkina Faso and Mali, the government has launched an ambitious programme of integration and infrastructure for education and health,” Youth Minister Mamadou Toure told AFP.
The cost amounts to “405 million euros,” he said.
The Gulf of Guinea country has suffered sporadic cross-border attacks over the past two years.
Armed incursions have also affected neighbouring Ghana, Togo and Benin, strengthening fears of a southwards push from the Sahel towards the coast.
Under the new plan, the government will earmark 33 billion CFA francs ($53 million) to provide 60 000 young people with professional training, apprenticeships and startup financing.
“Along with the military response, we want… to develop an ambitious social programme to… give young people prospects to prevent them from becoming easy targets for jihadist movements,” Toure said.
“Many young people sometimes have difficulty integrating after attending madrassas,” or Koranic schools, he added.