German chancellor Angela Merkel held talks with Chad authoritarian President Idris Deby in Berlin, barely a day after concluding a three-day visit to Africa, which took her to Mali, Niger and Ethiopia.
The two had discussed humanitarian aid and close military cooperation, Deutsche Welle (DW) reported on Wednesday, adding that Germany would provide Chad with US$10 million in food aid and water supplies.
Deby, fiercely contested at home and by the Chadian diaspora for his iron-fist leadership and massive human rights violations, is a valuable partner of the West in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel region.
About 650 German troops are currently serving in northern Mali, where Chad is spearheading the MINUSMA (UN Mission for the Stabilisation of Mali. A total of 120 Chadian troops have already been killed in Mali.
Chadian political exiles in Europe said they were disappointed that Merkel has met with Deby despite his dictatorial methods, which include the kidnapping, arbitrary arrest and torture of the opposition members.
But Merkel had something else in mind when meeting these dictators. Mali, Niger and Chad are strategic transit routes for sub-Saharan migrants seeking to get to Europe via the Mediteranean Sea.
DW said the German chancellor wants to sign deals on curbing migrant flows with transit countries in Africa, similar to an agreement already sealed with Turkey.
Photo: German chancellor Angela Merkel shakes hands with Chad dictator Idris Deby. Credit: DW/DPA