The French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, and his German Counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on Monday proposed the establishment of an EU-led humanitarian mission to combat Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
The Franco-German initiative was announced in Abuja at a trilateral meeting with the Foreign Minister of Nigeria, Aminu Wali.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the discussion at the meeting was dominated by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, security and the 2015 elections in Nigeria.
The French and German ministers pledged their commitment and support to Nigeria in the fight against terrorism.
They appreciated the efforts of Nigeria and international partners to secure the release of the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram terrorists on April 14.
Fabius explained that the humanitarian mission would be known as “White Helmet’’ dedicated to responding to epidemic, humanitarian and natural disasters in any part of the world.
He said France and Germany would propose the initiative to the EU but he cautioned that it might take time for other members of the bloc to agree to the request.
“We intend to mobilise all the forces of Europe in order to help, whether this (humanitarian catastrophe) happens in Europe or abroad,’’ he said.
Steinmeier commended the Federal Government for containing the spread of Ebola as evidenced by the World Health Organisation (WHO) certification of Nigeria as free of the deadly virus.
He said the Franco-German cooperation had offered to train 200 Nigerian health workers in barrier nursing to combat the spread of Ebola virus.
He said the training would depend on the availability of pre-trained personnel and requirements on the ground.
On terrorism in Nigeria, Steinmeier announced that Germany would provide support for those affected by the violence in the north-eastern part of the country.
“The whole world is feeling the pain of the over 200 girls but we also know that more than 100,000 people have lost relatives and have become traumatised because of the violent situation in the country.
“That is why Germany together with the International Office for Migration is providing psychological support for 10,000 internally displaced persons.
“We hope that with this support this people can overcome their trauma and psychological problems.’’
The German foreign minister also announced that the EU would commit 35 million euros to the electoral process in Nigeria ahead of the 2015 general elections.
The minister said they had earlier met with the INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, and he expressed optimism that the 2015 elections would be credible and transparent.
Wali thanked the French and German foreign ministers for their historic visit and meeting, saying it underscored Nigeria’s strong relations with the two leading EU countries.
The minister assured his counterparts of the Federal Government’s determination to combat terrorism with the support of international partners and Nigeria’s neighbours.
On the ceasefire agreement between Nigeria and Boko Haram terrorists, Wali said negotiations on the release of the kidnapped schoolgirls were ongoing notwithstanding the activities of some “dissidents’’.
He thanked the Chadian Government for facilitating the negotiation process in N’Djamena for the release of the abducted girls.
He said government was aware of reports that some women were kidnapped recently and blamed the incident on “dissidents’’ within the Boko Haram camp.
“This is something that has been going on for sometime and a Boko Haram member has issued a statement, saying the kidnapping was done by some criminals who are not Boko Haram members.
“We also suspect that there may be some dissidents of the main Boko Haram who would have done that (kidnapping) to break the ceasefire agreement.
“But certainly this will not threaten the negotiation that is ongoing and we will make every effort to bring back those that were kidnapped,’’ Wali said.
Photo Credit: NAN-PHOTO