This Monday (27 October), the third joint trip embarked on by Foreign Ministers Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Laurent Fabius took them to talks in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. Steinmeier stressed that the trip was a sign of the Franco-German friendship and showed the importance of the country for Africa and the world. Moreover, the aim of the joint visit was to talk to the Nigerian Government about urgent problems in the region which “affect us in Europe as well”. With their counterpart Aminu Bashir Wali, Steinmeier and Fabius agreed a German-French-Nigerian Partnership against Ebola which, as a start, would provide the framework for up to 200 auxiliary medical personnel to be trained.
With nearly 170 million inhabitants, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, and both politically and economically, it is a heavyweight in its region. On Sunday evening (26 October), the Foreign Ministers of Germany and France travelled to Abuja for political talks with President Goodluck Jonathan and Foreign Minister Aminu Bashir Wali. They also met Kadré Désiré Ouedraogo, President of the ECOWAS Commission (Economic Community of West African States) as well as representatives of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who are organising the presidential and parliamentary elections, set to take place in February 2015.
Determined action against Boko Haram
On Monday morning, the two Foreign Ministers first met representatives of Nigerian civil society and different Christian and Muslim communities. Their discussions also focused on the fate of the group of over 200 girls and young women from the Chibok region who remain in the hands of their kidnappers. Florence Ozor, a representative of the initiative “Bring Back Our Girls”, also took part in the meeting.
Following the consultations, the Foreign Ministers underlined that they “want to do everything possible” to help the Nigerian Government further step up its efforts to secure the release of the girls. Moreover, Foreign Minister Steinmeier announced Germany’s desire to set up an assistance programme for traumatised victims of the terrorist group Boko Haram in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). According to Steinmeier, the programme would aim to offer forms of trauma therapy to up to 10,000 internally displaced persons.
German-French-Nigerian Partnership against Ebola
A further priority of these discussions was the fight against Ebola. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Nigeria to be free of Ebola last Monday (20 October), but other countries in the region – above all Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia – have been hit hard by the epidemic.
At a meeting with his counterpart Aminu Wali, Foreign Minister Steinmeier voiced his respect for Nigeria and stated: “We would like to express our utmost respect for the success that this country, its doctors and auxiliary medical personnel have achieved in recent months fighting Ebola.”
The two Foreign Ministers also used their visit to Abuja to, together with their counterpart Aminu Wali, set up a Text of the German-French-Nigerian Partnership against Ebola statement PDF / 39 KB . This should provide the framework for up to 200 auxiliary medical personnel to receive training in Nigeria to deal with Ebola. According to Foreign Minister Steinmeier, this should help to strengthen the Nigerian health care system on the one hand whilst supporting the regions affected by Ebola on the other.