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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora