Issued by the Government Press Office
An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, is today, Sunday, beginning a week-long visit to Mali and Ethiopia, where he will meet with members of the Irish Defence Forces and Irish NGOs and visit a UNHCR refugee camp. The Taoiseach will also meet with the Malian President and the President and Prime Minister of Ethiopia. Minister of State with responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe TD, will accompany the Taoiseach to Mali.
Later today they will visit the EU Training Mission to Mali (EUTM), where they will meet members of the Irish Defence Forces serving with the EUTM whose mission is to improve the capacity of the Malian Armed Forces. From a security perspective, the EUTM is one of the most challenging missions for the Irish Defence Forces. During his visit the Taoiseach will also meet with the Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta.
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 visit the UNESCO world heritage site in Lalibela where he will launch a new partnership initiative on cultural heritage between the Governments of Ireland and Ethiopia.
Finally, the Taoiseach will travel to a UNHCR refugee camp for Eritrean refugees and visit Irish Aid funded projects in northern Ethiopia. In partnership with Ethiopian government agencies and UN institutions, Ireland has been operating a development programme since 1994. Our programme is Ireland’s largest anywhere in the world, amounting to €30 million in 2018 and a planned €32 million in 2019.