Norway has commited itself to operating an air base for the UN Force in Mali for two years. Additionally, a Norwegian transport aircraft will be re-commissioned in 2019.
Defence Minister, Frank Bakke-Jensen of Høyre (H), made the announcement at the UN Defence Ministerial Meeting in Vancouver, Canada, on Wednesday.
He participated in a panel discussion on ways to run UN missions. The operation of the aircraft base for the MINUSMA Force in Mali is considered to be just one example.
Norway has run the aircraft base since 2016.
‘It’s easy for other nations to enter. We offer them to use our camp, and they plan air missions for a limited period of time. It provides continuity, and it is easy for nations to plan when to move in, and when they are going out,’ said Bakke-Jensen.
The other countries do not have to build up the entire operation and settle it, he
Norway will collaborate with Denmark, Portugal and Belgium, who switch airplanes during the next period. Norway will set up a ten-man crew for operation of the camp. During the next six months, Norway will also contribute airplanes, and there will be between 50 and 100 Norwegian soldiers in Mali.
It costs approximately NOK 15 million a year to run the camp, while the flight assignments will cost around NOK 50 million.
Bakke-Jensen emphasised the importance of the flight grant to MINUSMA.
‘These are aircraft used for everything from medical evacuation, to delivering supplies to UN forces around Mali. It’s absolutely essential to get food, medicines and supplies out,’ he said.
Risky UN missions
He pointed out that when Norway contributed Hercules aircraft for ten months in 2016, it moved 14,000 passengers, and 600 tons of goods. Due to instability in the country, truck transport takes much longer.
The UN Force, MINUSMA, was created in 2013 as a result of turmoil and conflict. The operation is considered the UN’s most dangerous, and UN soldiers have been the target of a series of attacks.
MINUSMA currently consists of around 11,000 soldiers, and approximately 1,300 civilians.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today