BRUSSELS - Mali's military coup threatens to undermine European Union aid efforts in Africa's Sahel region, where drought and conflict have pushed millions of people to the brink of starvation, the bloc's development chief said on Wednesday.
Since Malian soldiers grabbed power on March 22, Tuareg rebels seeking their own northern homeland have seized half of the country, and neighboring nations have shut their borders with the previously stable West African state.
The European Union has already suspended its development aid operations in Mali, and if the political instability spreads it could hamper the 27-nation bloc's wider efforts in one of the world's poorest regions, EU Development Commissioner Adris Piebalgs said.
"Operations in the north of Mali are completely stopped. We can't do anything because of the instability, and I don't believe anyone currently has access to the people there," Piebalgs said in an interview with Reuters.