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January 29, 2013

AU Gives $50 Million for Mali Peacekeeping

by Gabe Joselow

African heads of state gathered in Addis Ababa during the past few days to consider tough action aimed at confronting crises across the continent. Top on the agenda was Mali.

Heads of state who gathered at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa did something they have never done before.

The world body unanimously approved $50 million to help fund an African military intervention in Mali.

This is the first time the African Union has used its budget to fund a peacekeeping operation.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who was elected the new African Union chairman during the summit, said Mali was among the top priorities. “In this regard, the assembly has, among others, adopted a declaration re-affirming its solidarity with Mali," he said. "And expressing its determination to pool the efforts of member states to assist this sisterly country."

The money will help fund the African-led intervention force that is supporting Mali's national army in its fight against rebels who seized control of territory in the country's north.

Troops from Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso already have arrived on the ground. The AU is asking for 6,000 troops for the operation.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters in Addis Ababa the U.N. is considering ways to support the mission.

“The United Nations is now actively considering, through my recommendation to the Security Council, how the United Nations can help those African countries in terms of logistical support,” he said.

The discussion on Mali doesn't end at this summit. The African Union also is hosting a donor's conference on Tuesday to solicit funds for the African initiative. The conference is expected to bring together international partners as well as African nations, and to get donations from countries including China and the United States.