EU gives ‘bankrupt’ Gambia $240m aid

The Gambian President Adama Barrow (left) and the country’s Chief Justice, Justice Emmanuel Oluwasegun Fagbenle (right) during the swearing-in of the president in The Gambian Embassy in Senegal.

The European Union announced aid worth 225 million euros ($240 million) on Thursday for The Gambia’s new government as President Adama Barrow said his nation was “virtually bankrupt” due to economic mismanagement by the former regime.

The EU froze assistance to The Gambia in December 2014 over the dire human rights record of ex-president Yahya Jammeh, whose security services were accused by rights groups of extrajudicial killings, torture and forced disappearances.

Barrow’s victory in December’s election is seen by foreign donors as a new chance for human rights and the rule of law to be better respected in the tiny west African nation.

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.

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  • Naijaman

    What was the ECOWAS Forces mobilized to do in The Gambia if they watched as Jammeh carted away $11 million of money belonging to the people? Was he bought off as part of him giving up power? It doesn’t make any kinda sense going cap in hand when just one individual fled with a whopping load of cash from the people’s treasury.

  • bigbang

    Barrow didn’t take the 11 million that has been confirmed.

  • Ola Roti

    That picture is not Chief Justice, Justice Emmanuel Oluwasegun Fagbenle rather it is Sheriff Tambedou, President of the Gambia Bar Association who swore in the new Gambian President.