EU gives Gambia $240m aid

EU gives Gambia $240m aid
February 10 03:54 2017

The European Union has announced aid worth 225 million euros ($240 million) for The Gambia.

President Adama Barrow said his nation was “virtually bankrupt” due to economic mismanagement by the immediate past regime of Yahya Jammeh.

The EU is intervening in the West African nation again as it tries to improve its democratic credentials and human right records.

The EU froze assistance to The Gambia in December 2014 over allegations of human right abuses levelled against Yahya Jammeh.

Neven Mimica, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, hailed “a peaceful democratic change in The Gambia” and said it was “fully committed to engage with President Barrow and his government”.

Immediate financial assistance of 75 million euros would target food insecurity, unemployment and the poor condition of the nation’s roads, the European Commission said in a statement.

Further aid worth 150 million euros would be disbursed following a future visit by an EU delegation, it added.

President Barrow said in a speech given at the signing of the aid deal that his nation had just two months of foreign exchange reserves left, and described “an economy that is virtually bankrupt and in need of immediate rescue.”

“Most public enterprises are debt-ridden and underperforming including the energy sector,” Barrow said, adding that youth unemployment had rocketed.

Jammeh is accused by Gambians of land grabs and taking over businesses for his personal gain, while new Interior Minister Mai Fatty alleged last month the ex-president took $11 million from state coffers before heading for exile in Equatorial Guinea.

Meanwhile Foreign Minister Ousainou Darboe said human rights concerns would be “speedily addressed” by the new administration, and that the process of rejoining the International Criminal Court would soon begin.

The Gambia notified the United Nations in November it would withdraw from the legal body on Jammeh’s orders