USA: West Africa

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 3rd August 2020.

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Photo of The Marquess of Lothian The Marquess of Lothian Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to recent violent street protests against the government of Mali, what assessment they have made of the current security situation in Mali; what representations they have received from the government of the United States about a decision on the status of US armed forces in West Africa since January; and whether they have further reviewed the impact of any possible withdrawal of US armed forces on UK armed forces deployed in West Africa.

Photo of Baroness Sugg Baroness Sugg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

The UK is deeply concerned about the deteriorating security situation across the Sahel, including in Mali. The current political crisis in Mali adds another layer of complexity to an already fragile situation. We urge all actors to exercise restraint, respect human rights and the rule of law and engage constructively in efforts to find a peaceful resolution. We welcome swift engagement by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to encourage progress.

The current situation further underlines the need to address the underlying drivers of conflict in Mali and the broader region. The UK is contributing to international efforts to do this. The Minister for Africa attended the first meeting of the Sahel Alliance General Assembly and the sixth Summit of the G5 Leaders (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger) in Mauritania on 25 February and the virtual ministerial meeting of the Coalition for the Sahel on 12 June. At the meetings, he reaffirmed the UK's efforts to improve security and encourage development in the Sahel. The UK is due to deploy to the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) at the end of the year and provides non-combat assistance to the French-led counter-terrorism mission Operation BARKHANE, in the form of three CH47 chinook helicopters. Our aid provides life-saving assistance to those most in need, helps ensure the protection of civilians, and contributes to improving governance and stability in the region.

We closely coordinate with our key partners, including the US and France. No decisions on the status of US forces in West Africa have been formally communicated to the UK Government by the US Government. We assess that any possible withdrawal of US forces would have a minimal impact on our deployed forces, but we will keep this under close review.

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