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 Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence 9:03 pm, 14th December 2020

I go back to what we are doing and why we are there. We are part of this United Nations mission. It is important to remember the umbrella character of that mission. I fully agree with the noble Lord that mission creep would be undesirable, but there is a minimal risk of that happening for the reasons which I stated earlier. This is a mission for our UK deployment of finite time—it is three years; there will be a review after 18 months. It is a fixed number of personnel; it is a peacekeeping mission—our role is one of reconnaissance. There are therefore clear boundaries round what we are doing there. That is not to say that our presence is ineffectual or not capable of achieving anything substantive—I would totally disagree with that as an assessment. As part of this broader commitment organised by the United Nations, we are contributing to addressing the issues which have made the country so challenging and dangerous. The noble Lord is quite correct. I do not seek in any way to diminish the threat, the dangers or the difficulties—they are real and they are there—but I am proud to say that, in so far as the United Kingdom is concerned, we have highly-trained, very capable and professional soldiers. I am confident that they will make a singular and important contribution to the broader objectives of the mission.

House adjourned at 9.25 pm.