UN Mission in Mali: Armed Forces Deployment - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:03 pm on 14th December 2020.

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Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench 9:03 pm, 14th December 2020

My Lords, on March 12, in evidence to the inquiry on sub-Saharan Africa of the International Relations and Defence Select Committee, which has been referred to already, General Sir Richard Barrons said that the UK’s role in MINUSMA, the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, was

“not in support of a strategy of any kind other than ‘We should do a bit more UN peacekeeping’”.

When the noble Lord, Lord Ahmad, answered my Question on 17 June, he said that our strategic approach would

“help tackle the underlying causes of poverty and conflict in the region” but he said nothing about the role of jihadists from both al-Qaeda and Isis, who have been referred to by a number of noble Lords. What has changed since General Barrons made his remarks in March about the lack of a strategy? Given the history of jihadism in Mali, including terrible attacks on women and the destruction of Sufi monuments in Timbuktu, will the Government be clear about who and what we are fighting in Mali and why, and reflect on the dangers of mission creep?