The Prime Minister will announce plans for the UK to contribute troops to peacekeeping operations in Somalia and South Sudan at a UN event in New York today.
The UK’s contribution to peacekeeping in the region will support efforts by the United Nations and African Union to end some of the world’s most destabilising conflicts that are prompting mass migration from South Sudan and facilitating the rise of terrorist groups in Somalia.
The Prime Minister has agreed that the UK will deploy personnel to Somalia as part of the UN support for the African Union force that is working to build stability in the country and counter the threat posed by the terrorist group Al-Shabab. The UK troops would provide medical, logistical and engineering support.
Further troops would be sent to carry out specific tasks in South Sudan such as providing vital engineering work to strengthen infrastructure and combat training and advisory support. This would underline the UK’s commitment to a more stable South Sudan, where 2 million people are displaced and millions more are facing food shortages.
The government will now work with the UN to finalise these plans. Precise numbers have yet to be agreed but could involve up to 70 personnel deploying to Somalia and a total of 250 to 300 troops could participate in South Sudan over the course of multiple deployments.
Speaking ahead of the UN event, the Prime Minister said:
Our armed forces have a long history of delivering security and stability to some of the most difficult environments in the world, and I am proud to offer British support and expertise to peacekeeping operations in Somalia and South Sudan.
As the world agrees ambitious goals to end extreme poverty, it is absolutely vital that the international community works together to shore up stability in Africa. And Britain – with our 2% defence budget and 0.7% aid budget – is more than able to play her part.
Our commitment to peacekeeping operations will help to alleviate serious humanitarian and security issues in Somalia and South Sudan, helping to bring stability to the region and preventing these challenges from spreading further afield.
The UK was one of the first peacekeeping nations and has continued that commitment to this day with around 280 troops participating in the UN mission in Cyprus today.
The UN Secretary General and President Obama are co-hosting today’s Peacekeeping Event at which more than 45 countries are set to be represented, with many expected to announce peacekeeping contributions. The event follows the completion of a review commissioned by the UN Secretary General of UN Peacekeeping Operations.
Notes to editors
A humanitarian crisis has been declared in South Sudan, with 2 million people displaced and over 4 million deemed severely food insecure.
The UK has a long history of providing support to South Sudan, and has already allocated over £260 million to the humanitarian response since the start of the crisis in December 2013.
The UK already makes a substantial financial contribution to UN Peacekeeping including approximately £323 million a year as part of the UK contribution to the UN’s $8.5 billion peacekeeping budget.