Up to one hundred extra UK Armed Forces personnel are to join UN peacekeeping work in South Sudan, adding to 300 announced under the previous Government.
Speaking at the UK-hosted UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial in London, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announced that the troops will deploy to South Sudan to boost support to the UN Mission in the country.
Once in country the deployment will more than double the UK’s global peacekeeping efforts, the UK Ministry of Defence said.
The additional UK personnel will enable the provision of a field hospital, supporting deployed UK and other UN peacekeepers.
The announcement comes as the Defence Secretary today welcomed representatives from 80 nations to London to discuss peacekeeping commitments.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “This large scale deployment underlines how we are stepping up our global commitments. Backed by a rising defence budget, it’s part of our effort to tackle the instability that leads to mass migration and terrorism. It will help keep Britain safe while improving lives abroad.”
The recent UK role in South Sudan has involved vital engineering work to strengthen infrastructure – provided by two engineer squadron groups – and is in addition to longstanding advisory support to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) headquarters.
The first UK personnel arrived in June, and the main body deployment is expected in country next year.
Separately to this contribution to UNMISS, the UK is also backing a UN mission in Somalia to ensure security against the threat of terrorism.
Around 40 UK troops have already deployed to join UN support to the Africa Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which is working to build stability and help neutralise the threat posed by Al-Shabaab extremists. This number can rise up to 70 to accommodate Short Term Training Teams.
The doubling of UK support to UN operations, coupled with today’s UK-hosted Defence Ministerial, underlines the UK’s leading role in peacekeeping.
The ministerial included discussion on a number of key areas, including how peacekeeping missions can be better planned, building on pledges made at last year’s UNGA Peacekeeping Summit, and ensuring effective performance of support to UN operations.
The UK also demonstrates leadership in peacekeeping by driving the debate on peacekeeping reform as a permanent membership of the UN Security Council, and by making substantial assessed financial contributions to the peacekeeping budget.
Britain’s longstanding support to UN peacekeeping includes an enduring footprint in Cyprus, as well as UN staff officers in other missions elsewhere in the world, meaning the UK Armed Forces has valuable experience working in varied and often difficult environments.