News / Africa

UN Chief: African Troops Should Convert to Peacekeepers in Mali

French soldiers search people at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Gao, Mali, February 14, 2013. French soldiers search people at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Gao, Mali, February 14, 2013.
x
French soldiers search people at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Gao, Mali, February 14, 2013.
French soldiers search people at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Gao, Mali, February 14, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
An African force currently in Mali should be converted into a U.N. peacekeeping operation and a separate combat force should be created to confront Islamist threats, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommended to the Security Council on Tuesday.
       
The U.N.-backed African force in Mali is due to take over from France when it starts withdrawing its 4,000 troops from the country in late April.
       
In a report to the 15-member Security Council, Ban recommended that the African force, known as AFISMA, become a U.N. peacekeeping force of some 11,200 troops and 1,440 police - once major combat ends.
       
To tackle Islamist extremists directly, Ban recommended that a so-called parallel force be created, which would work in close coordination with the U.N. mission.
       
Diplomats have said France is likely to provide troops for the smaller parallel force, which could be based in Mali or elsewhere in the West Africa region.
       
"Given the anticipated level and nature of the residual threat, there would be a fundamental requirement for a parallel force to operate in Mali alongside the U.N. mission in order to conduct major combat and counter-terrorism operations,'' Ban wrote.
       
The parallel force would not have a formal U.N. mandate, though it would be operating with the informal blessing of the Security Council. The report did not specify a time limit for the mission.
       
The Security Council was due to be briefed on Wednesday on Ban's recommendations and diplomats hope a vote to approve the peacekeeping force can take place by mid-April.
       
France began a military offensive in January to drive out Islamist fighters, who had hijacked a revolt by Mali's Tuareg rebels and seized two-thirds of the West African country. Paris said Mali's vast desert North was in danger of becoming a springboard for extremist attacks on the region and the West.
       
In a nine-week operation French, Chadian and Malian troops have driven the Islamists into desert hideaways and mountains near the Algerian border. French President Francois Hollande said recently that Mali's sovereignty had almost been restored.
       
However, Islamist fighters attacked northern Mali's largest town, Gao, over the weekend. It was the third major offensive there by the rebels since the town was retaken by a French-led military operation in late January.
       
Child Recruits

The African force in Mali is made up of troops mainly from West Africa, including more than 2,000 Chadians. Other than Chad's contingent, most African elements remain in the south of Mali away from the fighting.
       
The United Nations would only take on security responsibilities in Mali when "the necessary security and political conditions were deemed to be in place, following an assessment by the (U.N.) Secretariat.''
       
Mali's government hopes to hold elections in July, but Security Council diplomats and U.N. officials said that goal may be overly ambitious.
       
Ban said that once the African soldiers become a U.N. peacekeeping force, the majority of the troops and police would operate in the north of the country, while there would be a "light presence'' based in the country's capital, Bamako.
       
"The force would operate under robust rules of engagement, with a mandate to use all necessary means to address threats to the implementation of its mandate, which would include protection of civilians,'' Ban said.
       
"This could include the conduct of operations on its own or in cooperation with the Malian ... forces,'' he said.
       
Ban also suggested that the Security Council consider establishing an independent group of experts to investigate transnational and organized crime in Mali with the possibility of imposing punitive, targeted sanctions.
       
Mali was once viewed as an example of a working democracy in Africa, but its north has been a center of cross-desert trafficking of drugs, stolen goods and Western hostages. Border towns are used as transit hubs for trans-Sahara cocaine and hashish smuggling.
       
Ban raised serious concerns in the report about human rights violations being committed in northern Mali, including summary executions, illegal arrests and forced disappearances, use of children by armed groups, rape, forced marriages and looting.
       
"Hundreds of children have been recruited by all of the armed groups active in the north, including AQUIM (al Qaeda's north African wing), Ansar Dine, MUJAO and the MNLA,'' he said.
       
"The capture and detention of children for intelligence purposes is also an emerging trend that needs to be addressed as a matter of the utmost urgency,'' Ban wrote.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid