Lux soldiers deploy to Mali on EU mission


 Armée luxembourgeoise

A unit of Luxembourg soldiers on 15 May deployed to Mali as part of an EU mission to train local forces and advise the Malian military, which first began in 2013. 

Luxembourg participates in the European Union Training Mission, which aims to restore peace and stability in Mali and contribute to safety in the Sahel region, following a 2012 coup and jihadist uprisings in the country’s north.

Parliament in January 2020 had approved Luxembourg’s army to continue participating in the mission, agreeing to deploy 20 soldiers between 2020 and 2022. Troops from the grand duchy don’t participate in combat missions or active military operations.

A second coup--less than a decade after the one in 2012--ousted president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta in August 2020. Mali’s new military leaders in September agreed to an 18-month transition government until elections can take place.

The Luxembourg defence ministry at the time said the grand duchy’s involvement in the EUTM mission--as well as a second operation led by the UN involving five Luxembourg soldiers--would go ahead despite the unrest.

Defence minister François Bausch (déi Gréng) on Saturday participated in a send-off for the soldiers leaving for the West African nation. The troops shipped out by a plane belonging to the Multinational MRTT Unit, a joint military transport project supported by Luxembourg as part of its Nato defence effort and also involving Belgium, Czechia, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway.

Luxembourg is spending nearly €600m over 30 years on the initiative.

One officer, three non-commissioned officers, three corporals and 13 soldiers departed for Mali on Saturday. They will remain in the country for around four months and will be based in Koulikoro, located on the banks of the river Niger, around 60km downstream from Mali’s capital Bamako.

The cost for the EU and UN missions amounts to €18.9m.

In addition to providing military support, Luxembourg has a development cooperation agreement with Mali, which regulates humanitarian and development assistance.

The government spent around €55m on the third edition of this cooperation agreement, from 2015 until 2019, in support of projects in the areas of education, health and hygiene, and food and water security.