View of the Niger river from the Mali capital of Bamako
Luxembourg is to make satellite capabilities available to the United Nations as part of its contribution to the organisation for peace and security.
During a visit to the UN headquarters in New York on Monday, defence minister François Bausch (déi Gréng) signed a letter of assist with under-secretary general for operational support to the UN Atul Khare, promising infrastructure access for its stabilization mission in Mali, Africa.
It means that starting in February 2020, Luxembourg will provide the mission with Govsat satellite transmission capacity to link regional substations in Kidal, Tombuctu, Gao and Mopti to the headquarters in Bamako.
Luxembourg will also provide a satellite terminal so that troops can remain in contact with their commanders. According to the government, jihadist attacks had in the past caused communication interruptions but this new contribution is expected to help avoid that happening.
“Luxembourg's contribution, which is not merely financial in nature, will make a real difference to the security of all the allies in the MINUSMA mission,” Bausch said.
Mali has experienced instability and conflict since the military coup of 2012 and the occupation of northern territories by armed rebels. French-led military forces, who were deployed in January 2013, handed over the role of peacekeeping to the multidimensional integrated stabilised mission (known as MINUSMA) in Mali in July 2014. In addition to supporting development in Mali through cooperation agreements and humanitarian aid, Luxembourg’s armed forces have participated in two EU missions in Mali. Last Thursday, members of the foreign affairs and defence committees approved the participation of the Luxembourg army in the stabilisation mission and EU training mission. According to parliament, the former is a two-year mission, from 1 February 2020 to 31 March 2022, costing an estimated €5m.
Initially, two Luxembourg military personnel in charge of mobile satellite communications will be assigned to the military force headquarters in Bamako. Parliament said that Luxembourg will also be responsible for installing and keeping the satellite equipment operational. A further two people will be deployed for two to four weeks to install the satellite terminals. Under the EU training mission, some 20 Luxembourg soldiers will be deployed to Mali to assist the Mali government in restoring territorial integrity and protecting the population by reducing the terrorist threat. These soldiers will be in charge of training, educating and advising the Malian armed forces. Parliament wrote that it was not intended that they participate in combat missions or accompany Malian units during military operations. This mission will run from 19 May 2020 to 19 June 2022 and costs €13.9m.