Abe unveils aid of $83.4 mil. to help refugees from Africa's Sahel

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday announced aid of $83.4 million (8.7 billion yen) to support refugees from the Sahel region in Africa, Japanese officials said.

Abe unveiled the assistance in a meeting with Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara.

Abe and Ouattara agreed in their talks that peace and stability in the region will help promote economic development, the officials said.

Terrorism and trafficking in arms, drugs and people threaten security in the sub-Saharan Sahel region, a belt that spans 5,400 kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea.

Abe, who flew to the West African country from Oman as part of his weeklong trip to the Middle East and Africa, also offered aid of $7.7 million (800 million yen) to help secure stability in Ivory Coast, the officials said.

Ouattara told Abe that Japan's investment in his country will help promote economic growth, according to the officials.

In a joint press conference after the meeting, Abe said that it is desirable for Japanese companies to make investments in a way that contribute to regional development.

The prime minister also said Japan will send a survey mission for a project to build an elevated bridge in the African country as well as advisers for human resources development and investment promotion.

Following the talks with Ouattara, Abe held a meeting with 11 leaders from the Economic Community of West African States.

The African leaders called for Japan's assistance for natural resource development projects, the officials said.

Abe responded that Japan will promote cooperation in infrastructure and human resources development, they said.

Following the trip to Ivory Coast, Abe will visit Mozambique and Ethiopia. He will return to Tokyo on Wednesday.