European Union member states have agreed to begin a mission in the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa, with police and soldiers deployed to Ghana, Togo, Benin and Ivory Coast, German newspaper Die Welt am Sonntag reported on Sunday, citing diplomats.
According to the paper, the mission will aim to train and advise local security forces, help prepare for anti-terror operations, give technical support and implement confidence-building measures in the security sector.
The mission is to be launched after formal approval is given by EU foreign ministers at a meeting in October in Luxembourg.
The reason behind the planned mission is the EU’s concern that Islamist groups “could extend their activities in West Africa from the Sahel zone toward the southern coastal countries on the Gulf of Guinea, leading to even more widespread instability in the region,” Welt am Sonntag reported.
Militant activity from extremist groups linked to “Islamic State” and al-Qaida have rocked countries such as Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso in recent years.
The EU also wants to counter Russian influence in the region which has been spread through Wagner mercenaries who have supported military regimes in the Sahel.
The situation was further complicated for the EU after Mali kicked out French and German forces that had been training Malian soldiers and police.
Benin and Ghana had already officially invited the EU to deploy the mission on their territories, according to the paper.
The report comes as several countries in the region have fallen under military governments following coups, the latest being on July 26 in Niger. Military juntas have also taken power in Mali and Burkina Faso.
The fall of Niger to junta control has been especially concerning as it had been a key ally to Western powers operating throughout the region.