The EU today launched a fund for Africa with almost €2bn to combat the poverty and conflict driving migration to Europe. 

The trust fund consists of €1.8bn put up by the European Commission, the EU executive and from the bloc's central budget.

The Commission wants member states to match that, but few have pledged much so far.

The new money, which adds to some €20bn annually donated to Africa by the EU and its 28 states, will finance projects ranging from training and small-business grants and combating food shortages to schemes directly aimed at cutting migration and tackling radicalisation and other violence.

With Europeans' attention now gripped by over half a million Syrians and others whose arrival has plunged the EU into crisis, memories have faded of the drowned Africans whose deaths in April prompted the Malta summit.

However, EU officials say that African migration presents the greater long-term concern. 

Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald welcomed the establishment of the new EU Trust Fund as an important initiative to support the successful implementation of the Declaration and Action Plan. 

Speaking in Valetta, the minister said: "The Trust Fund is a key element of the EU contribution to tackling the root causes of instability, forced displacement and irregular migration in the north, east and west African regions.

“Saving lives is the first priority and the action plan agreed sets out enhanced cooperation to tackle people traffickers and smugglers who are exploiting  and endangering the lives of many vulnerable migrants.

"Another very important step has been taken towards resolving this crisis and towards addressing long-term migration issues,” she added.

Elsewhere, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that the summit was only a start.

"We have a great deal of work ahead of us," she said.

Among the biggest concerns in both Europe and Africa is the extent to which climate change, turning vast areas around the Sahara into desert, may set large sections of Africa's fast-growing billion-plus population on the move, both within the continent and north across the Mediterranean.

Initial direct pledges from the member states, who also fund the EU budget, amount to just €78m, but EU officials expect further money soon.

African leaders at the summit in Valletta stressed that its effect would be limited.

"The trust fund is not enough, €1.8bn is far from enough," said Mahamadou Issoufou, the president of Niger in the Sahel, which faces serious problems with migration and drought.

"What we want is not just official development assistance in this form but reform of global governance.

“World trade must be fair. There must be more investment in Africa. Official development assistance is good but it's not sufficient."

Senegalese President Macky Sall accused multinational firms of tax avoidance and conniving at corrupt transfers of Africa's resources costing countries many times what they receive in aid.

Meanwhile, The Irish Defence Forces has said that the LÉ Samuel Beckett was involved in an operation to rescue 99 people from an unseaworthy craft, in the Mediterranean today.

Its crew transferred the migrants to a vessel of Médecins Sans Frontières, which will take them to Italy.