BRUSSELS, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- The European Union said Tuesday it was offering more than $4 billion in grants to address development issues in central African nations.
EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs said nations in central Africa are facing national security challenges that extend beyond national security to include chronic malnutrition and a lack of infrastructure.
"The EU is firmly committed to working with partner countries to tackle those challenges," he said in a statement Tuesday.
The $4.06 billion grant program runs through 2020. Piebalgs said the aid would help the estimated 162 million citizens living in a region plagued by violence and a general lack of development.
Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has one of the lowest rates of gross domestic product per capita in the world, is destabilized by conflict pitting rebels from the March 23 Movement against national forces. Central African Republic, one of the poorest countries in the world, has struggled to ensure a sense of national security since Seleka, a Sunni rebel group, toppled the government in March.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said Saturday violence was escalating in parts of CAR. Its staff members recovered at least 50 bodies and treated more than 25 seriously injured people since late last week.