The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali – MINUSMA – will be boosted by 250 troops from the United Kingdom next year.
A statement, released via the UK Ministry of Defence website, said the soldiers would be deployed in recognition of increased instability in the Sahel region of North Africa, with the aim of delivering “long-term and sustainable peace in Mali”.
The troops will be based in Gao, eastern Mali, and will address a “key capability gap for the UN Mission”, according to the statement. They will join an international contingent of over 15,000 military and police personnel for an initial three year period.
The new UK contribution to the mission will form a long-range reconnaissance capability, providing greater awareness of possible threats and contributing to the protection of civilians.
In a video released by MINUSMA, UK Defence Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, said the UK will not put any caveats on the use of the troops by the Mission. They will “have an effect on the ground”, building resilience and rapport with communities and combatting security threats.
The UK Government statement explains the soldiers will support the UN mandate in Mali, which includes human security issues, such as operating within a zero-tolerance policy on sexual violence and the rights of women and children.
In a briefing delivered to the UN Security Council earlier this month, MINUSMA Force Commander, Lieutenant-General Dennis Gyllenspore, said the Mission suffered troop losses due to “frequent, direct and complex attacks on our bases”, adding his forces need to find new ways to operate, become more agile and unpredictable and react faster.