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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid