Another 34 Lithuanian soldiers start service in Mali
On 18 October, a squad made up of 34 Lithuanian soldiers started their service in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) as part of the German contingent. The Lithuanian troops will be responsible for ensuring the defence of the forces in the territory of the military base in Mali’s eastern province of Gao.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius, who is paying a working visit to Mali, greeted the Lithuanian troops upon their arrival in Mali.
“It is a great honour and responsibility to welcome Lithuanian soldiers, who are starting their service in Mali. I am convinced that you can contribute to ensuring security and stability in the country. Your efforts will also gain visibility for Lithuania and its troops. As professionals you will set an example for other Lithuanian soldiers, who will serve in Mali afterwards,” said Lithuania’s Foreign Minister.
The Lithuanian troops serve with the MINUSMA mission in Mali since August 2016. Upon the arrival of the new squad, a total of 39 Lithuanian soldiers will be serving in Mali.
“Lithuania is well aware of the fact that Mali’s situation determines the stability of the entire Sahel region and, at the same time, has a direct impact on Europe, especially in the context of illegal migration. Lithuania contributes to the international community’s efforts to support the ongoing peace process in Mali. We plan to maintain the same level of Lithuania’s contribution to the MINUSMA mission until 2019,” said the Minister Linkevičius.
Since the spring of 2013, Lithuanian soldiers are also participating in the EU Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali). The soldiers are rotated annually. Two Lithuanian soldiers currently serve with this mission.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania aims to contribute to the European Union’s efforts to improve the management of migration flows. This year, Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry finances the first Lithuanian bilateral development cooperation project in Mali. Aleksandras Stulginskis University is implementing the cooperation project involving working with local partners. The project aims to encourage entrepreneurial skills in young people in the agricultural sector in Mali.
In 2017, Lithuania also allocated humanitarian aid to Mali. The funds were channelled through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In 2016, the funds were channelled through the United Nations World Food Programme to help Mali.
On 22 December 2015, the Seimas (Parliament) of Lithuania made a decision on the participation of Lithuanian troops and civil servants in the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali. On 12 October 2017, the Seimas (Parliament) of Lithuania made a decision on the extension of their mandate until 31 December 2019.