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Harriett Baldwin urges Government to help address sources of conflict in west Africa

22nd July 2020

Harriett Baldwin welcomes the UK commitment to send troops to MINUSMA—the United Nations Multidimensional ​Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali— and calls on the Government to address the sources of conflict in the Sahel and west Africa.

Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire) (Con)

I thank the Defence Secretary for the update on Daesh, but he will know that the world’s fastest growing Islamist insurgency is in the Sahel and west Africa. I welcome the commitment to send UK troops to be part of MINUSMA—the United Nations Multidimensional ​Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali—the most dangerous peacekeeping mission in the world. Will he reassure the House that the National Security Council is looking across government at how the UK can address the sources of conflict in the Sahel and west Africa?

Mr Wallace

When my hon. Friend was in the Foreign Office, she did an excellent job on crafting the Africa strategy, from which we still work. Just so that Members realise that I have not just announced a new troop deployment, let me say that the MINUSMA troop deployment was announced to the House some years ago. I fear it may have been so far away that people may have forgotten and thought I have suddenly announced a deployment. Africa is going to be key in the next 10, 15, 20 years. It always has been important, but the spread of Islamist terrorism, through al-Shabaab, Boko Haram and Islamists in west Africa, is a real, existing threat that we have to deal with. They undermine fragile democracies and fragile countries, often those that are very poor. We cannot turn our back on Africa on these issues. Where we can, we have to support those countries to see off the threat of Islamists and help them on the path to successful economies. I know that DFID and its strategies are working to do that, and at the MOD we are doing it through training and other such things. That is why we commit to countries such as Kenya and, indeed, now to Mali.



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