News / Africa

UN says Mali Still Precarious, Future Peacekeepers Need Equipment

Soldiers from Burkina Faso stand guard at the airport, in Timbuktu, Mali, May 22, 2013.
Soldiers from Burkina Faso stand guard at the airport, in Timbuktu, Mali, May 22, 2013.
Reuters
Armed groups in Mali continue to pose a serious security threat to the entire region while African troops forming the core of a U.N. peacekeeping mission deploying next month are not yet properly equipped, the U.N. chief said in a new report.

France launched a massive military campaign in January which broke al-Qaida-linked Islamist fighters' control over the northern two-thirds of Mali and allowed the Tuaregs to regain control of their traditional fiefdom of Kidal.

But U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report to the Security Council on Saturday that despite the gains made by French troops, Malian security forces and an African force known as AFISMA, the situation continues to be precarious.

"The situation on the ground remains... fluid, with sporadic clashes between armed groups and continued asymmetric attacks across the three regions of the north," Ban said in the report, obtained by Reuters.

"Furthermore the advance of the MDSF [Malian defense and security forces] northwards towards Kidal and the fatal clashes with MNLA [separatist Tuareg] elements on 5 June have exacerbated tensions and increased the volatility of the situation in the region,'' it said.
    
To reduce those renewed tensions, Mali's government and Tuareg separatists began talks on Saturday that both sides said they hoped would lead to a cease-fire ahead of national elections next month and pave the way for a permanent peace deal.

The talks in the capital of neighboring Burkina Faso, due to conclude on Monday, follow the first fighting in months between Mali's army and the MNLA rebels this week as government forces advanced toward the Tuaregs' last stronghold of Kidal in the remote northeast.
    
Once the U.N. peacekeeping force, to be known as MINUSMA, is deployed, France will continue to handle counterterrorism and peace enforcement operations as needed in Mali, while the U.N. blue helmets will handle traditional peacekeeping duties of policing and trying to ensure new violence does not erupt.

In April, the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a mandate for the 12,600-strong MINUSMA peacekeeping force from July 1. The force will be supported by French troops if needed to combat Islamist extremist threats.

Deployment of the force will be subject to a council review of security in Mali in late June.

Helicopters needed

Ban said the African troops expected to be moved under U.N. command next month must still be brought up to U.N. standards in terms of their equipment and ability to sustain themselves in the landlocked West African country.

"Deployed AFISMA units have been given a grace period of four months to reach the required United Nations standards," the report said. "Critical gaps remain for attack and utility helicopters as well as for information units."

He said the U.N. force could face serious risks on the ground.

"While the operational capabilities of the armed groups have been reduced, attacks in recent months in Mali and the sub-region have shown that they retain the capability to pose a significant threat," Ban said.

"The Malian [security forces] and AFISMA have been targeted. United Nations troops and other United Nations personnel may well face a similar risk."

Ban also said the situation in Mali posed risks to neighboring countries because of the "danger of armed elements moving to neighboring countries to carry out terrorist attacks and engage in criminal activities."
    
There are other problems. Ban said the United Nations has received allegations of serious human rights violations in northern Mali by both the Malian troops and armed groups, including summary executions, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, and destruction and looting of private property.

"The human rights situation in Mali remains of grave concern," the report said.

It said there had also been grave violations against children, including recruitment and use of children as soldiers, sexual violence, killings, maiming and attacks on schools and hospitals.

The report said reports of retaliatory violence by Malian troops against members of the Tuareg and Arab communities have decreased.

"However, in Timbuktu, the risk to these communities remained significant in light of persistent perceptions of their association with armed extremist groups," it said.

"Most members of the Arab and Tuareg communities in the Timbuktu regions have not returned, fearing retaliation by the MDSF [Malian security forces] and the local population."

You May Like

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs