UK Armed Forces Minister Mike Penning has reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to Africa following a multi-country visit.
From engineering support to the UN in South Sudan, to helping counter the threat from terror in Somalia, the Minister was able to see the breadth of the UK’s role in Africa.
In Mogadishu, Mr Penning met British troops working with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which is building stability, and tackling the threat posed by Al-Shabaab.
Following travel to Bentiu and Malakal, the Minister was greeted by UK military personnel providing support to the UN Mission in South Sudan, which is working to achieve stability in the East African nation. Up to 400 personnel will deploy this year – making it one of the UK’s largest operational deployments in the world – enabling the building of a field hospital to support UN peacekeepers.
As the visit moved to Uganda and Kenya, Mr Penning watched pre-deployment training of their military personnel, many of who go on to serve in AMISOM.
Minister of State for the Armed Forces Mike Penning said: “It has been a privilege to see our Armed Forces operating across multiple countries, in different environments, in support of our African partners. The training and support provided by our dedicated men and women clearly demonstrates that Britain has genuinely global reach. This is no less so in South Sudan where we are playing a major role in the international peacekeeping effort, meeting the commitment made by the Prime Minister last year to double our support to the United Nations.”
Throughout the visit the Armed Forces Minister met with Government ministers and UN representatives to help deepen Defence relationships, and discuss shared interests and regional challenges.
In Somalia, The Minister met President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre, National Security Minister Mohamed Abukar Islow, and Mr Penning became the first international Minister to meet Somalia’s new Defence Minister Abdirashid Abdullahi Mohamed. He also spoke with UN Special Representative Michael Keating.
After leaving Bentiu and Malakal, the Minister travelled to Juba and met Defence Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk, UN Special Representative David Shearer, and Commanding Officer of the UK engineers in South Sudan Lt Col Jason Ainley.
Uganda and Kenya provide important contributions to AMISOM, and in both countries Mr Penning saw UK delivered pre-deployment training.
In Uganda, the Minister saw Ugandan troops receiving training at the Peace Operations Training Centre, Singo, before meeting Defence Minister Adolf Mwesige in Kampala.
Finally, in Nairobi, the Minister met personnel from the British Army Training Unit Kenya, which trains thousands of UK troops every year.
Mr Penning also visited the Humanitarian Peace Support School and British Peace Support Team Eastern Africa, which deliver AMISOM pre-deployment and other training to international military personnel, before meeting Kenyan Defence Minister Raychelle Omamo.