The EU has donated more than 100 armoured military vehicles to Ghana that were originally seized from a ship off the coast of Libya, as part of efforts to shore up the west African nation’s security.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s chief diplomat, formally handed over the 105 vehicles to Ghana’s armed forces on Saturday during a visit to the country. The military equipment, which includes armoured cars, was seized from a Libya-bound ship last year by an EU maritime task force, two senior EU officials told the Financial Times. The task force inspects vessels suspected of breaching the UN arms embargo on Libya.
The EU has not disclosed the origin of the shipment or the previous owners of the cargo. The donation to Ghana comes as the EU seeks to increase support for friendly states in west Africa amid fears that the decade-long insurgency crisis in the Sahel, the semi-arid strip south of the Sahara, will spill into the relatively peaceful coastal countries in the region.
The transfer of the confiscated vehicles — which were stored at France’s Marseille port after being captured as part of one EU initiative and then donated by another — is the first time such a mechanism has been used, according to one of the EU officials, who said member states agreed this was a better outcome than destroying them.
Borrell, who met with Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo and top security officials during the trip, said the vehicles were part of a €20mn support package for the country’s military. “Further equipment will also be delivered in the future: aerial surveillance, electronic warfare [systems] and river crafts,” Borrell added. “We are confident that this support will benefit not only Ghana but the entire subregion [of the Gulf of Guinea] as well. “The spillover of insecurity from the Sahel to the Gulf of Guinea is no longer a risk that may happen, it is a danger that is happening now.
A reality that our partners cannot and should not face alone,” he added. The support for Ghana’s armed forces comes from the EU’s European Peace Facility scheme, which has provided aid to Ukraine, Moldova and other bloc allies. Benin, one of the west African countries deemed to be at risk of Islamist violence, received €11.75mn in assistance from the same programme. Borrell described Ghana as “a prominent partner, considering its crucial role in furthering democracy, prosperity and regional stability”, adding that “these armoured cars were allocated to Ghana because we believe that it was the best way of using them”.
Sahelian states such as Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger have been battling al-Qaeda and Isis affiliates for more than a decade in a conflict that has killed thousands and displaced millions more. The insecurity has contributed to a wave of coups in these countries since 2020, with the military taking over and promising to improve security. The coup crisis has led to concerns that coastal countries such as Ghana, Benin and Togo, which share borders with Sahelian states, will be affected. Ghana shares a border with Burkina Faso in the town of Bawku, which is the location of a long-running ethnic conflict that security officials fear could be hijacked by insurgents.
Source : Financial Times