Taoiseach begins week-long visit to Mali and Ethiopia

The Taoiseach is to begin a week-long programme in Africa today, during which he will visit Irish troops in Mali and later meet Irish NGOs operating in Ethiopia.

Mr Varadkar, who will be accompanied by Minister of State for Defence, Paul Kehoe and the Defence Forces Chief of Staff, Mark Mellett, will meet the twenty Irish military personnel in Mali serving on the EU training mission.

The numbers from Ireland involved in training the Malian army have doubled since the first deployment of ten personnel in 2013.

Twenty-five other EU countries are also involved in the mission.

There has been a steep rise in the activities of a coalition of Al Queda-affiliated militants in Mali and across the wider Sahel region since 2015.

As well as fighting government forces and targeting civilians, they have also mounted attacks on the French military, which has been carrying out anti-insurgency operations in the country in support of the Malian Army.

UN bases have also been attacked.

The Taoiseach will be visiting the headquarters of the EU mission in the capital Bamako and travel to see the training camp at Koulikoro.

The Irish Defence Forces are providing instruction in urban combat, bomb disposal and international human rights law.

In Ethiopia, the Taoiseach will meet with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Sahle-Work Zewde.

He will also meet with a number of Irish NGOs operating in Ethiopia, attend a reception with the Irish community and launch a new partnership initiative on cultural heritage between the Governments of Ireland and Ethiopia.

Mr Varadkar will also travel to a UNHCR refugee camp for Eritrean refugees and visit Irish Aid funded projects in northern Ethiopia.


Source link : https://www.rte.ie/news/politics/2019/0106/1020540-varadkar-visit-africa/

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Publish date : 2019-01-06 07:26:41

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