Defence Secretary steps up UK commitment to Africa
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has thanked troops in Africa for their work training partner militaries in terrorism prevention and teaching soldiers how best to respond to sexual violence against women.
Williamson met with defence ministers from East Africa to reiterate his commitment to improving the security and wellbeing of those most vulnerable. Later, at the British Peace and Security Training centre just outside Nairobi, Kenya he opened a Security Sector and Gender training course geared towards the prevention of and response to sexual violence against women, men and children in conflict zones.
In addition to the confirmation that a small training team would deploy to East Africa specifically to help tackle sexual violence, Williamson also agreed an extension to the British Army’s infantry training in Kenya, from which thousands of personnel benefit.
He discussed the UN Mission in South Sudan – where the UK has built a field hospital for peacekeepers – and how British Aid is helping to support voter education, women’s participation and local conflict resolution.
“A prosperous and secure Africa is firmly in our national interest and our Armed Forces are playing a vital role on the continent,” said the Defence Secretary. “Whether fighting for women’s rights through our training teams or suppressing terrorist threats, the UK is a nation with a big heart and we are determined to help our partners when they need us.
“The incredible work our service personnel are doing from Somalia to South Sudan will help build a more secure and united continent. This will help to set the conditions for trading partnerships across Africa, supporting British and African businesses to create opportunities for everyone.”
In Somalia, British troops also gave a demonstration of the work being done to train Somali forces against threats from the insurgent group Al-Shabaab, as well as explaining their contribution to the African Union Mission in Somalia which aims to maintain peace within the region.
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