Chad's Idriss Deby appeals for aid to help fight terrorist threat in Sahel

G5 Sahel countries meet as France continues to consider reducing troops in region

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Chad's President, Idriss Deby, called for greater aid to support the fight against terrorism in the Sahel as he opened a two-day summit between five nations and France.

Mr Deby said the Sahel was struggling with "poverty, which is fertile ground for terrorism", and urged the international community to increase funding for development to deprive extremists of the chance to recruit disaffected young people.

The summit in Chad's capital N'Djamena brings together the G5 Sahel of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

Also present is key ally France, with President Emmanuel Macron joining by video link.

Last year, France increased its Operation Barkhane presence in the Sahel from 4,500 troops to 5,100, in a move that led to some military success.

French forces killed the leader of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Abdelmalek Droukdel, and a military chief of the Al Qaeda-affiliated Group to Support Islam and Muslims.

But attacks in December and January brought the number of French combat deaths in Mali to 50, prompting questions about the cost and effectiveness of Barkhane.

Mr Macron last month opened the door to a reduction in troop numbers, suggesting France might "adjust" its commitment.

The country is hoping for more military support from its European partners to lighten the load.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed, the UN said, while more than two million people have fled their homes.