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Posts Tagged ‘Espen Barth Eide’

Norway: Government to step up global health efforts

Posted by African Press International on October 19, 2013

The GAVI Alliance (the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will together receive an additional NOK 330 million in the national budget for 2014. The Government wishes to intensify its efforts to promote child and maternal health globally, to fight deadly diseases and to help to eradicate polio.

“Six million fewer children died in 2012 than in 1990. Deaths from malaria have fallen by 25 % since 2000. Deaths from tuberculosis have fallen by more than 40 % since 1990. And deaths from AIDS fell by 30 % from 2005 to 2012 alone. This shows that the global health effort is producing results. But much remains to be done,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.
Polio is in the process of being eradicated. Norway is increasing its support to this work by more than fourfold, with a total allocation of NOK 240 million for 2014. These funds will be administered mainly by the GAVI Alliance, but also by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“There is a close link between the use of resources and the results achieved. The money is reaching those for whom it is intended, and is being used effectively. This is why we are increasing our support, knowing  that this work is benefiting women and children, as well as men, all over the world,” said Mr Eide.
The fight against the major deadly diseases AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria is being intensified. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will receive an additional NOK 50 million. It is planned that this funding should be increased by a further NOK 100 million in 2015. Altogether it is proposed that NOK 1.7 billion should be allocated to the Global Fund for the period 2014–16.
Norway’s allocation to the GAVI Alliance is to be increased by NOK 100 million. So far 370 million children have been vaccinated through GAVI-supported programmes, and the aim is to reach many more. Norway’s contribution now totals more than NOK 1 billion per year.
“The increase in this year’s budget shows that Norway is shouldering its part of the responsibility for bringing the world closer to achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals by 2015,” said Mr Eide.
In total, Norway now spends more than NOK 4 billion of its international development budget on global health. Norway intends to increase focus on universal health coverage. It is the responsibility of individual countries to provide basic health services to their populations, while the role of the international community must be to provide support for national efforts under national ownership.

 

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Exports of defence-related products from Norway in 2012

Posted by African Press International on October 5, 2013

The Government is today presenting the annual white paper to the Storting on Norwegian exports of defence-related products, export control and international non-proliferation efforts.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ processing of applications for the export of defence-related products has become more stringent. Decisions are now based on even more thorough assessments of conditions within potential recipient countries than was the case before,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

In 2012, the total value of exports of defence-related products, technology and services for military purposes, production rights, brokering, and dual-use items for military use was almost NOK 4.6 billion. Of this amount, exports of defence-related products accounted for around NOK 3.9 billion.

The main recipients of defence-related products from Norway are Norway’s allies and other European countries.

Norwegian defence industry companies are dependent on good and predictable conditions. They play an important role in value creation and technology development. The Government intends to facilitate continued exports by having strict and clear regulations,” said Mr Eide.

One area in which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ practice in this area has become more stringent is the risk assessments that are made concerning the use of defence-related products for internal repression in the recipient country concerned. The requirements for documentation identifying the end-user have also been made stricter. Altogether, 18 applications for export licences for defence-related products were refused in 2012.

Updated guidelines for the Ministry’s processing of applications to export defence-related products were published on 16 September. The white paper that is now being presented describes the work to further tighten export control procedures.

“In recent years, the Government has increased transparency on exports of defence-related products. This is important for maintaining confidence in Norwegian export control legislation, and for ensuring support for companies that are vitally important for our national security and defence capability,” said Mr Eide.

The white paper provides detailed information on the types of military goods that have been exported, the countries they have been exported to, and the value of the exports. It also contains information on the export licence applications that have been refused.

The white paper also discusses Norwegian legislation and multilateral cooperation on export control and non-proliferation.

The total value of sales of weapons and ammunition (Category A materiel) was NOK 3.3 billion in 2012, while the value of sales of other goods that have been specifically developed or modified for military purposes (Category B materiel) was NOK 574 million. The value of exports of these goods increased by around 8 % from 2011 to 2012.

The main recipients of defence-related products from Norway are NATO countries, and Sweden and Finland. In 2012, 78 % of Norway’s total exports of Category A materiel and 90 % of Norway’s total exports of Category B materiel were to these countries.

 

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Norway welcomes UN statement on the humanitarian crisis in Syria

Posted by African Press International on October 4, 2013

Norway is pleased that the UN Security Council has finally reached agreement on a strong statement that condemns the serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights in Syria, and calls for unhindered humanitarian access,” said Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide.

The Security Council issued a presidential statement today concerning the lack of respect for international humanitarian law and the grave human rights violations in Syria.

“I am glad that the Security Council has urged the Syrian authorities and the various armed groups to implement concrete actions in a number of areas to ensure that civilians are given protection and assistance,” Mr Eide said.

The Security Council statement condemns the obstacles and impediments put in the way of humanitarian aid deliveries by the Syrian authorities and various armed groups. It calls for unhindered humanitarian access across conflict lines and across national borders when necessary. The lack of access granted to UN and other humanitarian actors seeking to bring help to those in need is currently the greatest humanitarian problem in Syria. The statement also condemns the widespread sexual and gender-based abuse and violence, and focuses particularly on the protection of children.

“It is crucial to demilitarise schools and hospitals, and to combat sexual and gender-based violence, especially to protect the very weakest groups in Syria, including children,” Foreign Minister Eide said.

 

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Norway welcomes UN Security Council agreement on Syria

Posted by African Press International on October 3, 2013

“I am very pleased that the UN Security Council and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have finally managed to reach agreement on a robust resolution about the use of chemical weapons in Syria,” said Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide. The resolution that was adopted by the UN Security Council today determines that the use of chemical weapons constitutes a threat to international peace and security.

For the past week there has been intense diplomatic activity in the UN to reach agreement on a joint resolution in the UN Security Council on Syria’s chemical weapons. The resolution requests the UN Secretary-General to report to the UN Security Council on a regular basis, and gives the OPCW a particular responsibility for ensuring that the Syrian chemical weapons are removed and destroyed.

In advance of the Security Council’s decision, the OPCW Executive, of which Norway is a member, agreed on a plan for Syria’s chemical weapons. Syria is required to destroy these weapons within nine months.

“I hope these decisions by the OPCW and the Security Council will pave the way for practical steps to eliminate Syria’s stocks of chemical weapons as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Foreign Minister Eide said. Norway is considering how we can contribute to this work.

For some time now Norway has been calling for a robust, binding resolution in the Security Council on the conflict in Syria.

“This is a diplomatic breakthrough which I hope will be the first step in a political process that in time can help create peace and bring to an end the terrible suffering in Syria. The civil war in Syria can only be solved by political means, not military action,” said Mr Eide.

 

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New hope for a lasting solution

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2013

The international group of donors to Palestine has expressed its strong support for the new round of negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians 20 years after the Oslo Accords. “The donors want to contribute, but it is the Palestinian and Israeli leaders who are responsible for ensuring that this opportunity is not lost,” said Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide.

On 25 September, Mr Eide chaired the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for Assistance to the Palestinians (AHLC) in New York. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosted the meeting, and the parties were represented by Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Israeli Prime Minister Yuval Steinitz.

“It’s extremely good news that a political process is once again underway. At the same time, we know that reaching a solution will be challenging. President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu have taken courageous steps. Time is running out for a two-state solution. This is why everyone must help to ensure that the negotiations reach a successful conclusion,” said Mr Eide.

At the meeting, Palestine reported on the status of the peace talks to US Secretary of State John Kerry. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, Quartet representative Tony Blair, and numerous ministers from the other donor countries gave their support to the current process.

Steps to ease the closure regime in areas occupied by Israel, Palestinian state-building, private-sector driven economic growth and a political solution to the conflict must be seen as interrelated. The meeting also underlined the importance of making process along all these tracks.

“A peace agreement will be in the fundamental interests of both Israel and Palestine. The donors are prepared to make an extra effort to support the political process. But unless the parties reach agreement this time, the donors will not be able to continue as before. The parties are aware of this fact,” said Mr Eide.

 

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Norway congratulates Bahrain Center for Human Rights on award of 2013 Rafto Prize

Posted by African Press International on September 26, 2013

“The prize recognises the courageous and valuable work of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights to promote respect for fundamental human rights in Bahrain. In Norway’s view, independent voices and institutions are vital for promoting freedom of expression. For several years the Bahrain Center for Human Rights has carried out important work in documenting discrimination and violations of freedom of expression and assembly,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

It was announced today that the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BHRC) has been awarded the 2013 Rafto Prize. The Center was established in 2002. In its announcement, the Board of the Rafto Foundation emphasised the Center’s longstanding efforts to promote human rights in Bahrain and draw attention to violations of human rights in an area of the world where this often receives little attention from Western countries.

“The award of the Rafto Prize to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights is also a signal of support and recognition of the important and challenging work being done by human rights defenders in the Gulf region. Norway is following developments in Bahrain closely and is concerned about the human rights situation. We are therefore pleased that an institution from Bahrain has been awarded the 2013 Rafto Prize. We hope that the prize will help to promote wider recognition and respect for the fact that human rights apply to all people – including vulnerable groups such as women, children and migrant workers,” Mr Eide said.

 

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Norway to take in 1 000 Syrian refugees

Posted by African Press International on September 23, 2013

 

“The Government decided today to accept 1 000 Syrian refugees for resettlement to Norway. The war in Syria has led to an acute refugee situation. Syria’s neighbouring countries have taken in close to two million refugees. The capacity of these countries is at breaking point and the UNHCR has appealed to other countries to help,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

There is no immediate solution to the conflict in Syria in sight. So far the conflict has led to massive flows of refugees to Syria’s neighbouring countries. In mid-September some 730 000 Syrian refugees were registered in Lebanon, 520 000 were registered in Jordan, 464 000 in Turkey, 117 000 in Iraq and 117 000 in Egypt. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Syria’s neighbouring countries have appealed to countries outside the region to resettle some of the refugees currently living in Syria’s neighbouring countries as a matter of urgency.

“Syria’s neighbouring countries have displayed an enormous sense of responsibility for the refugees from Syria. One in every four people in Lebanon is now a Syrian refugee. Syria’s neighbouring countries, in particular Lebanon and Jordan, are reaching the limit of what they can cope with. If nothing is done, they may choose to close their borders. It is therefore crucial that Norway and other like-minded countries show solidarity and take in Syrian refugees,” Mr Eide said.

Following calls from UNHCR, Norway has provided substantial aid to help Syrian refugees in Syria’s neighbouring countries. Since the start of the conflict in Syria in 2011, Norway has provided a total of NOK 850 million in humanitarian aid.

The further quota of 1 000 refugees from Syria will come in addition to Norway’s annual UNHCR resettlement quota of approximately 1 200 refugees.

“Norway has a tradition of doing what it can in response to major international refugee crises and of providing a safe haven for refugees. This time is no exception. We know that Norwegian municipalities will make every effort to take in and integrate these refugees. As a country we can be proud of this and we will do everything we can to support the municipalities in this process,” said Minister of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion Inga Marte Thorkildsen.

The additional resettlement quota that the Government has decided to establish is reserved for refugees from Syria who are recognised by UNHCR, preferably those living in Lebanon and Jordan. The total cost of the quota is estimated to be approximately NOK 770 million.

 

 

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Norway condemns terrorist attack in Pakistan

Posted by African Press International on September 23, 2013

Norway condemns the appalling terrorist attack on a church in Peshawar, Pakistan, on 22 September. The attack must be investigated and those responsible brought to justice,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

The attack on a church in the old part of the provincial capital Peshawar took place just after Mass on Sunday morning. The congregation had gathered outside the church for a free meal when two explosions killed more than 70 people, including many women and children, and injured more than 100. This is the worst attack on Pakistan’s Christian minority for many years.

“Our thoughts are with the victims, their loved ones and the Palestinian people,” said Mr Eide.

The terrorist attack is the latest in a series of tragic attacks on religious communities in Pakistan. These include a number of attacks on the country’s Shia Muslim minority earlier this year. Sunni Muslim extremists are behind them.

“I am very concerned about the growth of terrorist movements in Pakistan.

“These terrorist attacks hit innocent people and are destabilising Pakistan. The authorities must take resolute action,” said Mr Eide.

 

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Good news: Syria has announced that it will join the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Posted by African Press International on September 18, 2013

Welcome agreement on Syria’s chemical weapons

“I welcome the agreement reached by Russia and the US on the removal of Syria’s chemical weapons. This is a breakthrough for diplomacy in what has been a deadlocked conflict. Russia and the US must be commended for their efforts to achieve this agreement. I hope this will be the first step in a new diplomatic initiative to bring the civil war in Syria to an end,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

The US and Russia announced on Saturday that they had reached agreement on how the Syrian regime’s stockpile of chemical weapons is to be destroyed. Under the deal, Syria has to provide details of its chemical weapons, including where they are located, within a week. Failure on the part of the Assad regime to comply could lead to a UN Security Council resolution that opens up for the use of force.

Norway, together with the rest of the world, has condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria. At the same time, we have emphasised that it is the Security Council’s responsibility to respond to serious violations of international law. This agreement makes it very clear that the use of chemical weapons will not be accepted by the international community. And the fact that the US and Russia have agreed that further steps must be endorsed by the Security Council is important in itself,” said Mr Eide.

Syria announced Friday (13th of september) that it will join the Chemical Weapons Convention.

“Syria already had extensive obligations under international law. All the same, it is a positive sign that Syria has now announced that it wants to join the Convention, and it is one of the last countries to do so. It is crucial that the Syrian authorities now cooperate fully with the international community to reach a rapid solution to the present situation. This also applies to other issues in addition to the obligations Syria is taking on under the Chemical Weapons Convention,” commented Mr Eide.

 

As a member of the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Norway will continue its efforts to persuade the small number of states that still have not joined the convention to do so as soon as possible.

 

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Useful review of the EEA and Norway Grants

Posted by African Press International on September 18, 2013

“It is encouraging that the Office of the Auditor General is of the view that the EEA and Norway Grants help to strengthen contact and cooperation between Norway and the beneficiary countries. I am pleased that the Office of the Auditor General notes that our approach has become more focused and targeted,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

The Office of the Auditor General today presented its performance audit of the EEA and Norway Grants. The overall objectives of the EEA and Norway Grants are to contribute to reducing social and economic disparities in the EEA, and to strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation between Norway and the beneficiary countries.

“The report provides a useful review of our work on the EEA and Norway Grants, and it endorses the changes the Ministry has initiated,” said Mr Eide.

The EEA and Norway Grants have become an instrument of Norwegian foreign policy, and they help to promote social and democratic development in Europe.

“The contribution we make through the Grants acts as a door opener and it creates forums and cooperation on a scale that would otherwise have been impossible,” said Mr Eide.

The Office of the Auditor General’s report supports the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ introduction of a new administrative model for the Grants. The report concludes that this has helped to promote a more focused approach, and that performance management has improved and cooperation between Norway and the beneficiary countries has been strengthened.

At the same time, the Office of the Auditor General recommends that the ongoing work on performance management should be further strengthened, that administration and the provision of technical assistance should be followed up, and that the administrative model should be assessed in terms of its ability to meet the need for controls and ensure good performance.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will make active use of the investigation in its ongoing work to further develop the administration of the Grants. Quality assurance and performance management will continue to have high priority.

“It is important for Norway to be able to carry out controls and influence how the EEA and Norway Grants are used. We have therefore increased our capacity to carry out controls and engage in risk management. In order to achieve this, we had to use some of the funds to cover the costs of administration and technical assistance,” Mr Eide said.

The Office of the Auditor General’s report and recommendations will be followed up in various forums, including at a risk management seminar in Oslo next week that will gather representatives from all the beneficiary countries and Transparency International.

 

 

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Additional NOK 350 million to be allocated to humanitarian crises

Posted by African Press International on August 26, 2013

The Government intends to increase the humanitarian budget by NOK 350 million. The funds will primarily be channelled to Syria, but the crisis in South Sudan and the area around the Great Lakes in Africa will also receive Norwegian support. “There is an acute need for additional funds to alleviate several of the grave humanitarian crises in the world. The Government has therefore presented a proposition to the Storting today, proposing a NOK 350 million increase in the humanitarian budget. Of this sum, NOK 275 million will go to the crisis in Syria,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

The humanitarian situation in Syria is deteriorating steadily. The conflict in Syria began in March 2011. According to UN reports, more than 100 000 people have been killed. The number of refugees fleeing to Syria’s neighbouring countries has exceeded 1.9 million, and there are 4.25 million internally displaced. At least 6.8 million Syrians are dependent on humanitarian aid. “The situation in Syria is becoming increasingly brutal. Both the population in Syria and the refugees in neighbouring countries need our help.

 

In addition, the pressure being exerted on Syria’s neighbouring countries by the flow of refugees is a major problem. It is crucial that the international community helps the neighbouring countries to address this situation,” Mr Eide said. The additional NOK 275 million will bring Norway’s total humanitarian contribution to the crisis in Syria in 2013 to NOK 635 million. Norway will then have provided a total of NOK 850 million since the onset of the conflict in 2011.

“The crisis in Syria is the most rapidly escalating crisis in the world today. We must not, however, forget the humanitarian needs in other crises that are less in the media spotlight. The Government will therefore also provide an additional NOK 75 million to South Sudan and the area around the Great Lakes in Africa,” said Mr Eide. End

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Norway condemns terrorist attacks in Lebanon

Posted by African Press International on August 24, 2013

The terrorist attacks in Tripoli this week and in Beirut last week have killed dozens of people and wounded several hundred more. “Norway condemns the terrorist attacks that have taken place in Lebanon over the past weeks. Our thoughts go to those who have been affected and their families,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

The civil war in Syria has placed great strain on Lebanon and other countries in the region, in the form of large numbers of refugees, rising sectarian tensions and an increased risk of violent conflict.

“I am deeply concerned by the increase in violence in Lebanon. It will be a tragedy if the conflict in Syria takes hold in Lebanon too. Lebanon has a recent history of sectarian violence. It is now crucial that all parties refrain from acts that could heighten tensions in Lebanese society,” Mr Eide said.

 

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Norway condemns attacks on religious institutions in Egypt

Posted by African Press International on August 24, 2013

“I am shocked by the widespread burning of churches that has taken place in Egypt over the past week. Norway condemns these acts of violence. All political groups in Egypt must now distance themselves clearly and unequivocally from the burning of churches and attacks on Christian property,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

Yesterday, Christians and Muslims in Egypt made a joint appeal to the Egyptian authorities to strengthen security measures to protect churches and other religious institutions. The appeal was issued through the organisation The Egyptian Family Home, which was set up by the Coptic Church and Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt’s leading Islamic institution.

“Norway fully supports this joint appeal. I completely understand that many Christians in Egypt now feel threatened. The Egyptian authorities have responsibility for ensuring the security of the country’s religious institutions,” Mr Eide said.

“The right to practise one’s religion is a fundamental human right. I expect the Egyptian authorities to take the necessary steps to ensure the security of places of worship and other religious property,” Mr Eide said.

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Norway is to be at the forefront of the fight for women’s rights

Posted by African Press International on August 19, 2013

Women’s rights are increasingly coming under pressure in many countries. Today the Government launched its new Action Plan for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in Foreign and Development Policy. Norway is, and will continue to be, at the forefront of the fight for women’s rights internationally, and we intend to increase our efforts through our embassies.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide commented, “We are constantly seeing examples of the weak position of women’s rights in the world. In several countries, these rights are coming under pressure. At the same time we see courageous women and men who are standing up and fighting for gender equality and women’s dignity. For example, the Pakistani schoolgirl Malala’s campaign has impressed people all over the world, including in Norway. Norway intends to play its part. That is why we are increasing our engagement all over the world in the fight for women’s rights and gender equality.”

Today the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of International Development presented a joint plan of action for Norway’s efforts to lift the issue of women’s rights and gender equality higher up the international agenda. The plan emphasises the importance of strengthening the Foreign Service’s efforts through concrete guidelines, systematic gender assessment, and enhanced training. The aim is for all employees at Norwegian missions abroad to be ambassadors for gender equality.

Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås commented, “Gender equality doesn’t happen by itself. We know that from our experience here in Norway. Norway will therefore be a clear and fearless voice for women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. We intend to pursue the most effective development policy possible with a view to ensuring that all women have access to contraception and safe abortions.”

 

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Norway applauds Mali for peaceful election process

Posted by African Press International on August 4, 2013

Norway applauds the people of Mali for the peaceful conduct of the first round of its presidential elections. After a period of conflict there is a great need for stable governance to ensure further development.

Norway and international observers report that the poll on 28 July proceeded peacefully. Norway has provided NOK 40 million to support the election process through the UN.

Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås commented, “The people of Mali deserve a government with greater legitimacy to promote reconciliation efforts between north and south. It is very positive that the election has proceeded peacefully, with a high turnout. However there have also been clear shortcomings. For example many displaced people have not been able to vote. Further on, it is important that the votes are properly counted so that the results are respected.”

The count should be completed by Friday. It will then be clear whether one of the 28 presidential candidates has gained more than 50 % of the votes and can be declared president without the need for another round of voting. International and Malian observers have been posted to most of the constituencies, but threats from Islamists in the north-eastern Kidal region made it impossible for international observers to monitor the election in northern Mali.

Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide commented, “Mali has a long way to go. But a credible presidential election process is an important step in the right direction. Norway will support Mali as it moves forward, for example by contributing military and police officers to the UN force in the country.”

Norway has decided to send up to 20 officers to the UN peacekeeping force in Mali (MINUSMA) to help stabilise the country. Norway has also allocated around NOK 80 million in aid to Mali for this year. This is part of a significant Norwegian aid effort in the Sahel region.

 

 

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