EU gives millions to Niger to help stop flow of migrants

Belgium EU Summit
Former French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, center, arrives for an EPP meeting ahead of an EU Summit in Brussels on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016. European Union leaders meet Thursday in Brussels to discuss defense, migration, the conflict in Syria and Britain's plans to leave the bloc. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union has earmarked hundreds of millions of euros for the northern African nation of Niger as part of its efforts to stop migrants from reaching Europe.

Niger is a main transit route for people moving from Western Africa to Libya, where many board unseaworthy boats to cross the Mediterranean to Italy in search of better lives.

The EU’s executive Commission announced Thursday that it would provide Niger with 610 million euros ($640 million) in development aid, and a further 140 million euros ($147 million) for nine projects under the bloc’s fund for Africa.

The EU is developing other deals to manage migration with Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal.

Debate has swirled about setting up similar arrangements with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt and Pakistan but the deals are extremely expensive.

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