France backs stronger G5 force in Sahel
Paris, 31 July 2017
Florence Parly, Minister for the Armed Forces, is travelling to the Sahel from 30 July to 1 August and visiting, in turn, Chad, Niger and Mali to meet the French soldiers engaged in Operation Barkhane. The Minister is conducting part of the trip jointly with her German counterpart, Ursula von der Leyen.
The Armed Forces Minister began her visit on Sunday in Chad, where she had a meeting with President Idriss Déby and Defence Minister Bichara Djadallah. In Niger, she is due to meet President Mahamadou Issoufou and Defence Minister Kalla Moutari and then, in Mali, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Defence Minister Tiéna Coulibaly.
Building on the G5 Sahel summit of heads of state, in which the Minister took part alongside the French President in Bamako on 2 July, she reaffirmed France’s support for increasing the strength of the G5 Sahel’s joint force. The force is in fact being called on to play an essential role in combating the terrorism and trafficking that add to the region’s instability. Through the Barkhane force, France is providing operational support to this promising initiative by the countries in the region. The Minister also visited the headquarters of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) in N’Djamena, which brings together the security forces of Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria in the framework of their common battle against the cult Boko Haram, which is holding sway in the region.
In the joint meetings they will have with their hosts in Niger and Mali, the Armed Forces Minister and her German counterpart will also have an opportunity to convey their support for the G5 force in terms of procurement and training, and their active efforts to mobilize European and international partners in support of its action.
Operation Barkhane is the French armed forces’ biggest in terms of the number of troops it deploys (around 4,000) outside the country. It stretches over the five countries of the Sahel (Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad), in an area the size of Europe. Its goal is to fight terrorist groups and support the local armed forces. The Minister reiterated to personnel serving at Adji Kossei air base (Chad), at Operation Barkhane’s command post, the significance their essential action has “for the nation, for our fellow citizens”: “You are in the vanguard of the fight against terrorism”, […] “making a contribution too by helping the local authorities fully exercise their sovereignty and curb illegal migration.” She added: “You can count on my determination for you to have the necessary resources to carry out your mission.”./.