German troops will take part in a small European Union training mission in Niger after the parliament in Berlin gave its final approval on Friday, deploying to a country seen as at risk of violence spilling over from neighbouring Mali.
Islamist militants have been gaining ground in Mali following the withdrawal of French and other European forces.
German troops have started to withdraw from Mali as the mission that has been hampered by disputes with the ruling military junta in Bamako and the arrival of Russian forces.
Germany deployed some 1,000 troops to Mali, most near the northern town of Gao where their main task is to gather reconnaissance for th
The EU decided in December to set up a three-year military mission to Niger, one of the world’s poorest countries, and has some 50-100 European troops there to help the country improve its logistics and infrastructure. Germany plans to deploy up to 60 soldiers.
Three months ago,the Council of EU on 20 February launched a Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) military partnership mission in Niger (EUMPM Niger) to support the country in its fight against terrorist armed groups.
The aim of the partnership mission, formally established on 12 December 2022 at the request of the Nigerien authorities, is to enhance the ability of the Niger Armed Forces to contain the terrorist threat, protect the population in the country and ensure a safe and secure environment in compliance with human rights law and international humanitarian law.
EUMPM Niger will support in particular the establishment of the Centre for the Training of the Technicians of the Armed Forces, provide advice and specialized training on request to the Niger Armed Forces’ specialists, and support the creation of a new communication and command support battalion.
The German military had been training Niger’s special forces with some 150 soldiers since 2018 but wrapped up that mission at the end of 2022. German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen during a trip to Niger around two years ago said “Niger is a strategic partner in the fight against terrorism, organized crime and illegal migration,” with almost 1000 German troops in the Sahel region, including 40 in Niger.
In 2021, Germany provided 15 IAG Guardian Xtreme armoured vehicle to Niger in order to combat cross-border militancy and trafficking through the Agadez region of the Sahel.
IIn 2017, Berlin donated 100 flat-bed military trucks, 115 motorcycles and 55 satellite phones to Niger for use by its special army and police counter-terrorism units to combat cross-border militancy and trafficking through the Agadez region of the Sahel.
Also in November 2018, Germany also gifted 53 logistics vehicles to Niger’s military. Germany is building an officer training school in Niger and expanding the military section of the capital’s airport.
There are still some 1,100 German troops based in Mali, most of them near the northern town of Gao, where their main task is to gather reconnaissance for a U.N. peacekeeping mission.
This mission has been plagued by recurring disputes with Mali’s ruling military junta and an increasing Russian military presence there that has prompted unease in the West. Berlin decided in November to pull out its troops from Mali by May 2024, following France and other European nations such as Britain.