News / Africa

UN Approves Peacekeeping Force for Mali

In this picture taken on January 28, 2013, Chadian soldiers patrol the streets of Gao, northern Mali.
In this picture taken on January 28, 2013, Chadian soldiers patrol the streets of Gao, northern Mali.
Margaret Besheer
The U.N. Security Council has given the green light to transform an African-led force in Mali into a U.N. peacekeeping force. The African soldiers will swap their current helmets for the blue ones of U.N. peacekeepers starting on July 1, but only if the Security Council decides 60 days from now that security conditions are conducive. If not, the council can delay their deployment.

The African force, known by its acronym AFISMA, now numbers about 6,200 troops from countries including Nigeria, Chad, Gabon and Burkina Faso.  As the U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali - or MINUSMA - it will be authorized to expand to more than 12,000 troops and police.

After the Security Council unanimously authorized the mission Thursday, French Ambassador Gérard Araud told reporters that the U.N. force would not pursue terrorists in their strongholds, but would defend themselves if attacked.

“The peacekeeping operation is not going to conduct any anti-terrorist activity," Araud said. "It is stabilization, stabilization of the north of Mali.  You know it’s very simple, why do we need stabilization force?  It is because we need to rebuild a Malian army.  As soon as the Malian army is able, in a sense, to ensure the sovereignty of the Malian state, there won’t be any need of a peacekeeping operation.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had originally recommended that there be a parallel force operating alongside the stabilization mission to handle counter-terrorism duties - a task that is normally beyond the mandate of U.N. peacekeepers.
But instead of a separate force, the resolution authorizes France to intervene if there is an “imminent and serious threat” and upon the request of the U.N. chief.  France has led offensive operations against the rebels in the north since the Malian government appealed for its help in January.

France has said it has begun drawing down its 4,000 troops from Mali and by the end of the year expects to have only about 1,000 in the country.  But with military assets in nearby Chad and Senegal, it could quickly respond to a threat in Mali.
There has been some concern expressed by human rights groups and some member states that if the African forces transition to U.N. peacekeepers, they must meet certain standards, particularly in human rights training.  And in the case of Chad, there have been questions whether its troops would be allowed to continue as part of the U.N. force because the country has been criticized for its use of child soldiers.

U.N. Peacekeeping Chief Hervé Ladsous said troops for the new mission would have to meet U.N. standards.

“Human rights is one of the core elements of the mandate.  Definitely, we will do two things: we will do some vetting of the personnel and we will increase the training in human rights and international humanitarian law.  This, we want our people to be impeccable," said Ladsous. "That is very clear.”

The new force for Mali is tasked with protecting civilians, preventing the return of armed groups to population centers, and helping the Malian authorities re-establish state control throughout the country. The mission will also have a human rights monitoring component, as well as a political dimension focused on assisting with presidential and legislative elections scheduled for July, and the starting of a national reconciliation process.

A U.N. envoy for Mali is expected to be named soon to head the mission.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid